However in real world things are changing. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and on the video screen in the waiting room were images of healthy people running with encouragements to exercise to help prevent a number of illnesses. It is amazing how you can write something one day and then coincidentally see something else that is related (actually it is not that amazing but that doesn't stop you thinking 'what a coincidence!' every time it happens).
I then came across something far less trivial:an example of how running can be used to turn round the lives of homeless people. Back On My Feet is a charity in Philadelphia that uses running as a way of building self esteem. The website clearly states its mission and is well worth a visit. I will just reproduce a couple of quotes:
To solve any problem you have to get at its core. We have all been on rocky roads in life and some people have unfortunately found themselves on a road without a home. BOMF does not provide food for the homeless nor does it provide shelter. While those are very important basic needs that all human beings deserve, we provide a program that teaches people to believe in themselves because it doesn't matter if you have 20 homes or 0 homes; if you don't have confidence in yourself it's very difficult to move forward.
We use running as a vehicle to show individuals they are capable accomplishing goals...but it's not going to happen overnight - it takes hard work, dedication and perseverance. BOMF focuses heavily on teamwork - when we run, we run as a family and we support, encourage and motivate each other every step of the way. No one ever runs by themselves because life is a lot harder when you go through it alone.
The rational is supported by a quote from a paper from the American Heart Association about the benefits of exercise:
"...compared with sedentary individuals, active persons are more likely to be better adjusted, to perform better on tests of cognitive functioning, to exhibit reduced cardiovascular responses to stress, and to report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.”