ASICS - the name is inspired by the acronym for the Latin expression "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano" ("You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body"). These words made a deep impression on founder Mr. Onitsuka, inspiring his dedication to making athletic shoes with the aim of nurturing healthy minds and bodies of young people through sports in post-war Japan.
And so the mantra “Sound Mind, Sound Body was born”.
Forty-five years later and once again we are faced with unprecedented uncertainty and stress. We are limited in how we train, exercise, work, play and see family and friends. BUT just as Mr Kihachiro believed, I too believe and know that when we are sound in mind, we are sound in body. The two go together and are inextricably linked. With a healthy mind, we will be motivated to move however we desire and when we move our bodies, we move our minds to become optimistic, energised and clear.
A Sound Mind…
...is not necessarily devoid of stress. Stress is an insidious and ever-present part of life coming from work, family, sport or competition demands. When we experience these things our autonomic nervous system is switched on; we have a rush of hormones and neurotransmitters (e.g. adrenaline and cortisol) so we can contend with whatever the demand/stressor is. This is a finely tuned system that allows us to activate energy and oxygen and quickly transport it to where it’s needed most (our heart, lungs, muscles, and brain) not to the things we don’t need right at that moment; such as digestion and sleep. As such, stress helps us be ready and perform. We must embrace it and learn to have a sound mind so we can navigate it in a more positive way.
- A Sound Mind is a mind that notices, accepts and respects this stress response
- A Sound Mind is one that can deal with elevated stress before it becomes a problem or leads to low mood
- A Sound Mind is one that isn’t so overwhelmed that it tips our physiology into a state of overdrive or exhaustion
A Sound Body…
…is one which is ready and able to handle the physiological demands that our bodies go through in times of stress. It absorbs training stress and/or life stress well, bouncing back to perform again when needed. And most importantly a Sound Body is also one that has its needs met. These include movement, sleep, nutrition, self-care, rest and recovery.
How running (movement) can help us achieve A Sound Mind in a Sound Body…
Research has proven that running enhances mood and supports brain health. Especially running outside in nature as well as with other people. ( Make sure you follow restrictions in your country).
Moving our bodies by running helps us to calm the mind. It does this by promoting a flow state feeling due to the fact that we’re concentrating on our breath, foot placement and nothing much else other than maybe navigating people or objects that might be around us as we run.
Running can help us to diffuse stress by using up some of the elevated adrenaline or cortisol that may be surging through our bodies as a result of life demands. If you think about it, when we are presented with a stressor we may be at our desk, in our car or on our email, and yet still our body goes into ‘fight or flight mode’ but we cannot get away. A run later in the day can help fulfill this primal instinct using up some of the excess cortisol.
And running also helps build resilience so that we are less likely to be overwhelmed when life gets hard. For example, research has shown that trained runners have better tolerance to cortisol than untrained people. Running also helps us develop confidence and strength when faced with long distances/hilly terrain, characteristics that carry over into normal life.
How much running do you need to do?
Not actually that much. The benefits aren’t only for trained runners. If you like to run at a slow comfortable pace or even stop frequently, you’ll still benefit in mind and body. Yes, the more trained you are, the more resilient you might be to stress. But, it’s important to remember that lots of training can have the same impact on our physiology as life stress. So, if you’re keen to achieve a Sound Mind in a Sound Body by running, start slowly. Adding a grueling training schedule to a body or mind that is already under excessively high stress isn’t what you need to do. Research has shown that as little as 20 minutes moderate intensity movement is enough to significantly lower stress. If you’re already an experienced runner training quite hard, then try to make room for this training stress by focussing on rest and recovery, eating well and doing more low intensity fun exercise such as yoga or breathwork in order to make room for training stress.
Health Coach for Stress and Mental Health from London
Age group: 35-40
Club: RunWell Club
Coach: Karen Weir www.runwithkaren.com