Here’s more reason to stick with your New Year’s resolution to exercise more: Increased cognitive performance is associated with exercise. According to Karen Postal, an instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, exercise has a positive effect on the brain, allowing people to think clearly and solve problems. However, not everyone wants to think about serious issues while exercising; instead, they want to escape their problems for a while. Postal states the best way to accomplish this is through high-intensity workouts: “When you have high exertion—meaning you are running flat-out in a race—you’re not going to be able to solve problems or think as well as when you are engaged in moderate exercise.” Dr. Miriam Nokia seems to agree, stating that high-intensity interval training is more stressful than moderate running.
Daydreaming is often seen as a negative trait, the opposite of being efficient and completing important tasks. However, Jerome L. Singer coined a term called positive constructive daydreaming, which refers to daydreaming that plays a constructive role in our lives. According to his research, daydreaming, imagination, and fantasy are essential to a healthy mental state. He attributes daydreaming to enhanced social skills, relief from boredom, and increased pleasure. Josie Glausiusz stated in an article in Psychology Today, “In one of those scientific switchbacks, daydreaming now appears to be a vital function of the psyche—a cauldron of creativity and an arena for rehearsing social skills. It may even be the backbone of our consciousness. Maybe what we all need is more time to let our minds meander.”
Runner Melissa Dahl admits to increasing her running intensity to allow time for her mind to meander. And according to statistics at Running USA, other runners are also showing a preference for fast running as opposed to moderate running. Some runners run because they need exercise, some run because they want to experience the euphoria called runner’s high, and others run to get away from it all. So those who want to let their minds roam free have only to strap on a pair of shoes and fly like the wind.
What kind of runner are you? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave your comments below.