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Trinity College Dublin

Dublin University Harriers and Athletic Club

Why Run?

"Running as an exercise can strengthen the limbs, develop the lungs, exercise the will and promote the circulation of the blood. Running is well adapted to both young and middle-aged persons. Sedentary persons may find great benefit in it after the day's work is ended. Girls can run as well as boys, and while they cannot go so fast, they can run much more gracefully."

-- Scientific American (1883)

"Even if the day ever dawns in which it will not be needed for fighting the old heavy battles against Nature, muscular vigor will still always be needed to furnish the background of sanity, serenity, and cheerfulness to life, to give moral elasticity to our disposition, to round off the wiry edge of our fretfulness, and make us good-humoured and easy of approach."

-- William James (1958)

"It is one of the strangest ironies of this strange life that those who work the hardest, who subject themselves to the strictest discipline, who give up certain pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest men. When you see 20 or 30 men line up for a distance race in some meet, don't pity them, don't feel sorry for them. Better envy them instead."

-- Brutus Hamilton (1964)

"From the outside, this runner's world looks unnatural. The body punished, the appetites denied, the satisfactions delayed, the motivations that drive most men ignored. The truth is that the runner is not made for the things and people and institutions that surround him."

-- George Sheehan (1978)

"Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance."

-- Noel Carroll (1981)

Psychological Benefits of Running

Exercise and Happiness

In one random survey (Carter, 1977) it was found that 72% of those who exercised sufficiently to maintain moderate levels of fitness, claimed that they were "very happy". In groups of subjects who answered that they were either "pretty happy" or "not so happy", only slightly more than one third were physically fit.

Reduction of Tension & Anxiety

Anxiety levels in both normal and anxious people are reduced after vigorous exercise in both the laboratory and out of doors (Bahrke & Morgan, 1981). Running has been used in the management of those with severe anxieties (Berger, 1984). When compared to a single dose of tranquilizer, a single exercise bout has a significantly greater effect on resting muscle tension. De Vries (1981) concluded that exercise has a substantial acute and long-term tranquilizing effect. Runners also exhibit less anxiety about death than do nonrunners (Guyor et al, 1984).


Jogging has proved to be an effective adjunct in the treatment of depression and may be at least as effective as, and considerably cheaper than, conventional drug therapy in cases of mild depression (Berger et al, 1984).

Quality of Life

University students who participated in a 15-week jogging program showed significant increases in their reported quality of life, whereas a control group showed no such change (Morris, 1978).


A number of studies have reported that healthy adults who had exercised regularly for 4 or more years exhibited greater energy, patience, humour, ambition, and optimism and were more amiable, graceful, good-tempered, elated and easygoing than were a group of persons just commencing an exercise-training program.