Cardiovascular training is imperative in the world of fitness. In order for everything to function properly, your body needs that heart-lung complex to be cooperating. Cardiovascular fitness assists in the delivery of blood and oxygen throughout the working muscles. It helps the digestive system run efficiently so that wastes are removed in a timely fashion. Your heart contracts stronger and your lung volume increases, improving your level of strength endurance. Perhaps the more popular reason why aerobic exercise is so important is that it burns body fat. Depending on level of intensity, a person can burn up to 1000 calories in one hour of aerobic exercise. Running is a great cardiovascular activity. As you continue to run, your bone density improves and gets stronger. Older runners with years of running behind them have very minimal bone loss reducing their risks of bone fractured injuries.
Pounding the pavement, runner's high...no runner can deny that glorious rush of feeling you get when you run and leave all your worries behind. One of my favorite quotes from Forrest Gump is when he spoke of his running years across the country. "...you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that's what my running was all about." Whatever your reason for running, you are on a wonderful path to life long health.
For Emily O'Connell, wife and mother of 2 young boys, running is more than just getting her heart rate pumping. "Running is such a positive way to start my day. I feel healthy and strong after I run. It allows me to think about and prepare for the day and week ahead of me. It is also a time that I use to reflect on all the things that I'm thankful for in my life. Many times I come to a solution or decision regarding any challenges or problems I may be facing."
"I have no problem motivating myself to get out and run every morning because I know how great it makes me feel, both mentally and physically. Running helps me maintain a healthy weight, sleep better, and just makes me a happier person."
Emily has been running marathons for 8 years. She just recently finished the Pocono Run for the Red on May 17, 2015. To train she increases her mileage about 2 months before the marathon. As she builds up her endurance, her longest run to prepare for a marathon has been 20 miles. She began running as an overweight teenager. "I ran my first mile in a worn down pair of Birkenstock sandals. I could only run a little bit and would have to walk, but as I kept at it, I was able to run longer distances. Running gave me goals to work towards and still does. It gives me confidence and makes me feel free! I have never run on a cross country team, only for myself. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and hope I might inspire someone else to tie up their sneaks and give it a go!"
Benefits of outdoor verses indoor running are: the wind which provides natural resistance, the fresh air, enjoying nature, and the added obstacles of hills and valleys. Emily enjoys tackling those up hills and activating the fast twitch fiber muscles. These muscle fiber types are called upon when you are in sudden need of that powerful energy. Size of muscle will increase when fast twitch muscle fibers are recruited. Long distance runners typically will be more prominent in slow twitch muscle type fibers to sustain them for endurance strength.
When asked about what to say to inspire other moms looking to get fit and healthy, her response...
"Make time to exercise...it's worth it!! I think parents need to make exercise a priority. Sometimes we feel guilty or selfish about taking this time out of the day for ourselves but in reality, it is not selfish. We are healthier, happier, and a great example for our children."
"Parents need time to reflect, and when I make time to run, it makes me a better person, mom, wife and friend."
Be Your Own Fit would like to thank Emily O'Connell for her contribution and her husband, Seamus and sons, Aidan and Ewan.
Irma Ilao is a certified fitness trainer, a fitness nutritionist, a fitness and health blogger at Be Your Own Fit, and a professional photographer. All photos are credit to Irma Ilao Photography.