Strengthen This One Muscle To Improve Your Running and Your Life
Strengthen this one muscle to improve your running and your life.
“Even at rest, the muscles of the heart work hard—twice as hard as the leg muscles of a person sprinting” – PBS, Amazing Heart Facts
Your heart is, of course, the most important muscle in your body. Beating an average of 100,000 times a day and over 36 million times a year, it is by far the hardest working muscle you have. When you run or walk, you are getting lots of cardiovascular benefits which make future exercise easier and more enjoyable. So, the more you exercise, the easier it becomes. You can then run longer or faster because you've the strengthened the main muscle that allows both to happen.
The cardiovascular benefits of exercise include:
Strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system
Improving your circulation and helping your body use oxygen better
Lowering blood pressure
Improving cholesterol numbers
Shortening your recovery time
The health of your heart involves much more than just the physical health of your heart. Your heart truly responds to your emotional well-being, as many scientific tests and studies have shown.
Stress, sadness or other emotional trauma have been shown to be physically detrimental to the heart. On the other hand, love, connection, and happiness contribute very positively to your heart’s and your whole body’s health and well-being.
To strengthen your heart's emotional health you can start by simply listening more closely to it’s longings and desires.
I love this section of Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist:
“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure.”
“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it's become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me…”
Running and walking provide the perfect opportunity to listen to your heart. When you first start moving you can feel it beating faster. Then, as your heart settles into that higher beat and rhythm, you can continue to listen to what it has to say.
With practice, you will be able to distinguish between the voice of your heart and the voice of your mind. The voice of your mind is concerned with details like speed, distance and goals. The voice of the heart can be more tender, and often has some longing in it. Your heart’s voice is the one that feels connected to the natural world around you and is touched by the beauty of it. When you hear that voice, shift your attention to it, and listen carefully to what it has to say. Allow yourself to be filled up with what the heart loves and enjoys.
You do not always have to follow your heart’s desires, but it is important to at least listen to them; to hear and acknowledge that those desires are there and sometimes crying out to be heard.
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So, it's better to listen to what it has to say.”
When you use your runs and walks to listen to your heart, exercise will no longer be a chore or something to fit into your schedule. It will become a part of your day that enriches your whole life.