Today I was reading the latest edition of Running Room Magazine and came across an ad and article for a run series I did not even know about - shame on me! It's called the Shopper's Drug Mart Run for Women. The runs are held all across Canada in support of women's mental health organizations. It all ties in nicely with my recent post called "Exercise & Mental Health: Janette's Story" featuring a great interview with my friend and marathon runner Janette Vander Zaag. If you haven't read her story, click on "older posts" (it's not that old, I wrote it about a week and a half ago) and look for the post headline I mentioned above.
The next Run for Women event closest to those of us in Simcoe County is June 22 in Unionville. Distance choices are 5K or 10K and there is also a 1K girls fun run. The reward is a very hip bracelet by foxy originals inscribed with the words "Run Inspired."
The article, "Prescription to Run," that accompanies the advertisement, talks about the role running plays in positive mental health.
Dr. Valerie Taylor, a marathon runner and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Women's College Hospital, Toronto, says she writes prescriptions for her patients to "run three times a week or join a Learn to Run program as part of the treatment for their depression."
How awesome is that?
Dr. Taylor points to numerous studies that show aerobic exercise that raises one's heart rate for more than 25 minutes "can have the same effect on your brain chemistry as anti-depressant drugs and structured talk therapy. MRI scans indicate that running can increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which is a key treatment for depression."
Like the therapist I spoke with recently at the Canadian Mental Health Association/Mental Health Addiction Service - Simcoe County, Dr. Taylor also notes the importance of maintaining social connections for people struggling with mental illness. She says running is a social activity and "Running groups also help to relieve stress because participants may share stories about their struggles that they might not tell their friends and family."
Women's College Hospital Mental Health Program is focused on raising awareness about women's mental health with the support of a national initiative called Shopper's Drug Mart WOMEN. Their aim is to connect women to health information and resources and to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues. Read more about it at www.womenshealthmatters.ca
A portion of the proceeds from this year's Unionville Run for Women are going to Women's College Hospital. "Supporting women in their efforts to make running a part of their regular routine is a critical step in ensuring the well-being of women and families across the country," says Dr. Taylor.
The Keynote speaker at the Unionville Run for Women is Jennifer Heil, Olympic gold and silver medallist and 2011 Female Athlete of the Year.
If you happen to live in South Simcoe, Ontario I know a great little place that can help teach you how to run. Ann Jackson, co-owner of Thrive Fitness in Alliston, also runs (pardon the pun) The Running Experience. That's where I took my first steps and their training programs vary from beginner right up to marathon distance. There is a 5K clinic beginning Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. that will get you primed and ready to run the Summer Solstice Run (5K or 10K distances available) on June 18 in Alliston (register for that run at www.events.runningroom.com) and then four days later you could do the Run for Women in Unionville! To find out more about run training visit www.thrivefitness.ca. And of course if you live in a city that has a Running Room store, run clinics are also one of their specialties.
Run for Women events are held
throughout the summer across Canada:
June 22 - Unionville, ON
July 13 - Vancouver, BC
July 27 - Calgary, AB
Aug. 10 - Halifax, NS
Aug. 24 - Ottawa, ON
Sept. 28 - Quebec City, QC
To register for a Run for Women event in your province, visit www.runforwomen.ca.