So, how’s it going, eh I mean, how’s it running? That’s what we asked Bernadette, who picked up jogging during the Corona crisis. We already know that jogging is supposed to be a rejuvenating cure and is healthy anyway, but running has other health benefits too.
If you want to slow down the body’s aging process, regular exercise is a must. But what kind of sport is most effective? If you google “sport” and “rejuvenation”, it becomes obvious very quickly: if you want to kick-start your body’s own anti-aging process, it’s best to sprint straight to your running shoes. If you run regularly for about 30 minutes, you should feel younger within a few months. Numerous researchers have devoted themselves to this topic, and countless studies are trying to prove it: Blood cells show that endurance training, and running is definitely one of them, has a positive effect on important regulators of cell ageing, more precisely on telomerase activity and telomer length. Telo what? That’s what we thought too… Telomeres are the chromosome ends within our cells. And whether we feel young and fit or rather old and weak is supposed to depend mainly on them. So much about the scientific part. But it’s much more interesting how it actually feels: That’s why we met Bernadette. She lives in Vienna, works in an international advertising agency and is 48 years old. Neither her looks nor her lively character suggest that Bernadette has already celebrated her 40th birthday. A balanced diet and lots of exercise have always been important to her, but so far she has mainly worked out in the gym, stayed fit with yoga and also snowboarded to reduce her excess energy – and yes, Bernadette definitely has a lot of that extra energy.
“Running was never a hobby of mine. It bored me and I never really got, why so many people seem to enjoy it,” she says at the beginning of the interview. In the meantime, she has found herself the right pair of running shoes online, which she by now loves a lot. Six weeks after the start of the Corona shutdown, she is now running 5.5 kilometers a day – and yes, she will continue to do her daily laps even after the current crisis-related restrictions are lifted. The beginning of her personal marathon run was, as for many others, the Corona crisis. You get the impression that the whole city has suddenly discovered running for themselves.
Since fitness and yoga studios are temporarily closed, Bernadette also needed a plan B and started to go for a run with let’s say moderate motivation. That changed pretty fast: “I found my personal pace quite quickly, concentrated on breathing and just kept running,” she says. Those first motivational lows in endurance sports are well known. Many people report that the first 10 to 15 minutes of swimming are also exhausting, and you don’t want to go on – but after about 20 minutes you reach a kind of frenzy and don’t want to stop anymore. This is exactly what Bernadette tells us, for whom daily running is now the first point on her everyday agenda. “When I get up, I go running first thing in the morning, then at nine I’m ready for my video calls,” she says. If she does not go for a run in the morning, she will not feel as good and motivated. Her morning ritual has a positive effect on her mood.
But now let’s move on to the question that interests us all – and that is whether it makes her feel younger: After a brief moment of reflection, she says that six weeks would be a too short period in order to approve that. “But I’m definitely feeling a lot better and fitter,” she adds. When she talks about running, it almost sounds like something magical. “What exactly is going for a run doing to you?” we ask her. Spontaneously the word “freedom” comes to her mind. She says that she can switch off her mind and therefor feels completely free after just a few minutes. During running she looks around, keeps discovering houses she hasn’t seen before, concentrates on her breathing and just lives in the present. These moments are rare due to her tight working schedule. The daily runs represent true quality time in her life. After the morning run, she feels more relaxed, but at the same time full of energy, calmer and yet powerful.
She believes that the mentioned anti-aging effect will set in at some point: “Let’s see, I’m sure I’ll keep running for the next few months and can then report how much younger I’ll feel,” she says smiling. Whether the few wrinkles on her face will disappear or not, we don’t know that for now, one thing is clear: exercise ensures that when we get older, our cardiovascular system is pumping faster – and that makes us feel younger and healthier for sure.