Running and sport involvement is one of many innovative treatments for healing trauma. Activities like music, meditation, drama, and yoga offer new pathways to recovery by stimulating the brain’s natural neuro-plasticity. Creative therapists are employing exercises that help people focus on bodily sensations— and it’s largely through heightened body awareness that past traumas can be renegotiated and revisited rather than relived repeatedly.
Current medical research shows how the mental habits of exercise addiction can lead to a phenomena known as "athlete's heart," the official medical term referring to both the natural and pathological enlargement of the heart of someone who engages in strenuous exercise over a long period of time. The good news is that “athlete’s heart” is not the inevitable consequence of training hard. Intensity and rest modifications, effective medicines, and safe supplements are all proven treatments that protect the heart. The information-rich fields of Emotional Physiology and Neurocardiology are also beginning to offer valuable contributions to the conversation.
Being an elite athlete -- or a world-class artist or musician -- or a ground-breaking scientist, for that matter -- requires passion and dedication. And there's often a fine line between a healthy, productive enthusiasm or even "obsession" for an activity that we love; and, on the other hand, a compulsion or addiction that ends up being mentally, emotionally or physically damaging. When is "too much of a good thing" a good thing -- and when is it simply too much?
If you're already in the habit of walking, sitting, hiking or running through forests or parks with an abundance of trees, you've probably noticed how nourishing the experience is: how spending time in the natural world – immersed in the energy of trees, rivers, mountains and wildflower-filled meadows -- just feels really good. But why exactly is this? How does time away from city streets, in favor of more rural or back-country environments, actually affect our mental-emotional and physical health?
Now even with all the cross-training possibilities available for a runner, would it occur to you to include opera singing among them? Perhaps not, but as it turns out, the converse is indeed true: a growing number of opera singers are using distance running as a form of cross-training.