Running Clubs for a Healthier Community

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If you have ever gone on a run or run in a race, you know the feeling of complete exhilaration when you finish.  There is nothing like it; it makes your feel invincible. Anything that makes you feel that good should be spread to others.  Even if you have never run a step, you can give it a try. Every journey starts with the first step.

 

RUNNING CLUBS AS MOTIVATION

 

Many people whom start running may have a hard time getting out for regular training runs.  They may not continue to run because they aren’t motivated to get out there. Joining a running club may be just the thing to help runners get out there, get healthy and be social.  Weekly runs can be on a set schedule so that everyone will know where and when to meet.   

It can be an appointment that is set just like a hair or doctor’s appointment; neither of which you would want to miss.  Also, if you hit a plateau with your running, others in the club may give you that extra push you need to get to the next level.  There is nothing like getting a pep talk from someone who has been in your shoes to get your moving.

 

“New research further bolsters the positive effects of social contacts, finding that participation in different social groups can improve mental health and help a person cope with stressful events.” — Rick Nauert PhD

 

RUNNING CLUBS AS A HEALTH ROUTINE

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Exercise is very important for our health and long life.  Sitting on the couch is not helping anyone’s health routine.  “Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions” (www.runnersworld.com) The club can encourage their members to get out there and get moving, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle.  Most runners are also healthy eaters so they can share products or recipes that they have tried. A healthy potluck each month could also be planned.

 

RUNNING CLUBS AS A SOCIAL ACTIVITY

 

If running is something you’ve wanted to try or something you’ve been doing for awhile, what better way to socialize than to include something that you love.   You will immediately have something in common with others in the group. They can give you tips on warm ups, stretches, best sneakers, etc. After a long (or short) run, the group may get together to socialize at a local café or home.  Guest speakers can even be invited to share their knowledge of running. Lifelong friendships can be forged. The once a week run may blossom into several other runs or plans to do races as a team.

 

“As humans, we seem to have a built-in expectation that we will fit somewhere, that people will acknowledge us and care about us, that, in short, we will be in a band.” — Gary Bernhard, Ed.D. and Kalman Glantz, Ph.D.

 

RUNNING CLUBS AS SOCIAL ACTIVISM

 

There are a myriad of races whose sole purpose is to raise money for different charities and social actions.  Many for-profit races have teams of racers that run for a specific charity or group. This is can be a huge motivator if it is a cause near and dear to your heart.   It is a win-win because the charity is getting donations and the runner is getting in a healthy run. As the teams run through the streets and down the roads, they are bringing an awareness of their charity or group to spectators.  

 

KIDS RUNNING CLUBS

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If you are a runner and enjoy working with children, you can set up a kids’ running club in your community.  This could be especially useful for the middle school and high school ages because they often don’t have an outlet for their energy or may not have supervision after school and during the summer.  Holding a weekly run at a school track or local park can give them somewhere to go and give them a sense of belonging. Nothing says come be a part of something like a sport that anyone can try.

 

“It may be hard work, but it is worth the effort. Regular exercise can help you feel more positive.” — Jane Framingham, Ph.D.

How to Start a Yoga Community

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Yoga means union in Sanskrit.  It is the union of many different ideas, events, movements and beliefs.  It was originally instituted as a Hindu spiritual discipline, but has been transformed into a worldwide lifestyle that brings peace, love and health to the multitudes.  To establish a community of yogis (practitioners of yoga) is to establish a community of peace, love and togetherness.

 

“Hatha, meaning literally “sun-moon” Yoga is thought of as a way of uniting opposite energies, such as “masculine and feminine” or “hot and cold.” Traditional Hatha Yoga encompasses not only physical poses (asanas), but also breath-work (pranayama), mudras (energy locks), meditation, and contemplative practice.” — Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.

 

HOW TO START

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Yoga has become a mainstay in all towns and cities across the country.  There are probably multiple yoga studios within a close radius of your home right now.  There are a plethora of free how-to videos on the Internet. You can also purchase DVDs online and at many stores.  There are a ton of resources out there; you just have to decide which one to use.

 

You can get the word out by posting on social media; in the town library, community center or senior center; local newspapers that offer free community listings.  Signs can also be posted at the location where the class will take place. If school is still in session, notices can go out through notices sent home in backpacks.

 

OUTDOOR CLASS

 

Many yoga studios will want to get the word out about their classes and there is nothing like an outdoor class in a picturesque location.   The nature of yoga is to bring people together (there’s that word union again) to support a positive mindset so to bring a class to an outdoor venue in your town would be a perfect opportunity.  The yoga studio or yoga instructor could ask for a donation (maybe $5) and this could expose many more people to yoga inexpensively. Many times these classes are promoted as community classes.

 

“This need not be an esoteric metaphysical labour. Instead, it can be sociological: analysing the ways in which society shapes us to be functional. Yoga is like an inventory of the body’s habits.” — Damon Young Ph.D.

 

COMMUNITY CENTER/LIBRARY CLASS

 

Classes could be offered at local senior centers, community centers or libraries.  Since yoga is a quiet, peaceful practice, many libraries have meeting rooms in which videos can be shown or instructors can hold classes.  Another great win-win for everyone; the instructor gets the word out about their studio and the community builds a great group of peaceful, like-minded people.  This could be offered free of charge or for a small donation.

FACEBOOK COMMUNITY

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Another type of yoga community that is not a physical, face-to -ace community, but is a community nonetheless is a Facebook community.  There are many yoga themed Facebook groups that you can join, which are private groups. Within these groups, yogis post yoga challenges; words of encouragement; mindfulness exercises; online yoga class recommendations: questions about poses, yoga teacher training, props, etc…all within a supportive, like-minded community.  The people who join the group all have the yoga mind set, which is very accepting, supportive, understanding and mindful. It is a great way to start online or even face-to-face friendships. Since the groups are private and there is an administrator who oversees the discussions and posts, it is a safe place to ask questions that you may not ask elsewhere.

 

“Anxiety, sleeping disorders, ADHD, depression, pain and stress symptoms can be helped by learning yoga techniques. Several recent studies have documented the amazing benefits of regular yoga practice on health, which occurs over a relatively short time period.” — Constance Scharff Ph.D.

 

AFFORDABLE

 

People may not have the time or money to dedicate to joining a studio so all of these would be perfect scenarios for them.  Perhaps starting a home practice and then trying a public class makes some feel more comfortable. Others who may be curious about yoga, but not ready to commit to a full membership get an opportunity to try it out.   Those participants may become paying members of the yoga studio or they may just meet other like-minded people who they can then get ideas from for other similar activities. Who knows…lifelong friendships man ensue.

 

Get involved with a yoga community in your area.  It will be a great investment in your self-care.

 

How Music Can Bring a Community Together

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It is said that music is the universal language.  It matters not what language a song is sung in, everyone can get up and dance with smiles on their faces; enjoying the tune and reveling in whatever cultural the song comes from.  Since many cultures can be united with music, it is sure to bring a community together.

 

“Researchers have documented that listening to music can be effective for reducing pain in people who generally have high levels of anxiety. Investigators discovered music can be used as a distraction and is effective among those who can easily become absorbed in cognitive activities.” — Rick Nauert PhD

 

Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neurochemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.  Music has also been linked to dopamine release, involved in regulating mood and craving behavior, which seems to predict music’s ability to bring us pleasure.” (www.greatergood.berkeley.edu) If you have ever been to a sporting event and everyone starts singing the national anthem, you have experienced that feeling.  

 

TOWN CONCERTS

 

If there is a gathering spot in a town (the town green, a football field, a shopping area, etc), it is a perfect place to have concerts.  The high school band and chorus can perform. Local musicians who are trying to get there name out there. A community band that just enjoys getting together to play.  Any of these groups would probably perform for free. Community members can bring their blankets and a picnic and enjoy some great music.  

 

If there is a local band that charges for their performance, the community can apply for grant money or take up a collection at the performance.  There could be a minimal $5 a blanket charge. Some towns may have money in their recreation department budget to cover the charge.  

 

CITY OR TOWN CONTESTS

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Many towns have started yearly town contests, similar to the popular “American Idol” show.  People within the community audition and are promoted to the next level or are politely given their walking papers.  As they continue to perform at each level, the same process repeats itself. The performances are open to the community with or without a small entrance fee.  At the end of the contest, there is a winner chosen and a concert of the top participants. The winner then becomes a judge for the next year.

 

“I would argue that when you listen to the music of your childhood, you can feel grounded, transported back in time. It can help you to recall the comfort of a childhood home, neighborhood, or community.” — Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT

 

FARMER’S MARKETS

 

Many communities have outdoor Farmer’s Markets and this is a great place to showcase local talent.  Again, musicians and groups that are trying to get their name out into the public may perform for free and have a donation bucket while they sing and play.  A Farmer’s Market is already bringing the community together with its products. The music may encourage visitors to stay longer…maybe even bring a picnic lunch or dinner.

 

MUSIC VIDEOS

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Anyone with a Smartphone can make a music video these days.  There are many apps and programs that make it very simple. A great example of this is if a school group gets together to make a video.   It immediately bonds them together to work on something that has a finished product. Everyone involved wants it to turn out well because lots of people will be watching it.  This is a great place for students, who may not know each other or who come from different interest groups, to work together and get to know one each other. It may become a yearly tradition for, say, a senior class to make one of these videos before going off to college and jobs.

 

“Use headphones or earbuds if that helps you focus or shut out external noise. Give yourself permission to only listen to the music, without simultaneously checking your email or refreshing your Facebook feed.” — Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT

 

Younger students would also love this activity.  It could be offered as an after school club or a yearly talent contest.  It is another great place to bring together a community that may not have gotten to know each other without this offering.  It is great to see children banding together over a love of a favorite musician or group.