Running is good for your mind, too

Download the Tip Sheet (PDF) 
Prepare a 10-minute AMA Youth Run Club School Health Advocacy Talk on “Running: Good For Your Mind, Too" based on the suggested talking points, below:
  • I’m here to talk about why a physical activity like AMA Youth Run Club is also good for your mind – what we call your mental health. (Ask the kids: Do you know what mental health is?)
    • Our feelings, mood, emotions, behavior, attitude
    • How we think and feel about our own self, and about others.
    • It’s also how we react to other people and to things that happen in our day.
  • What's harder to understand, but just as interesting, is how our emotions affect how our bodies feel and how our different organs work. Let's think about what happens to some of our body's organs when we feel different emotions:
    Ask the kids:
    • Who can tell me what our brain does when we are angry?
    • What does it do when we’re sleepy?
    • Who can tell me what our heart does when we are scared?
    • And what about our lungs…our breathing…if or when we're scared? Or our muscles?
    • What do you think happens to our organs when we’re happy or excited? Or sad or stressed?
  • Why do you think activity – like running – helps your mind and body feel good?
    • One reason is that they are connected. If one changes, it can affect the other.
      • Getting a bad cold can make you feel sad and miserable.
      • Getting upset can make you breathe harder and your muscles feel tighter.
    • It’s easy to figure out why being active is good for you physically: Your body is built to move. Its parts – muscles, bones, heart and lungs – are made to work hard. Being active keeps them (and you) strong. Getting your heart pumping is amazingly good for your whole body.
    • Why do you think physical activity also helps you feel more relaxed and happy?
      • Everybody feels anxious, stressed or low in spirits sometimes. But the positive thing is that we know exercise helps us feel better. 
      • Your brain releases endorphins when you exercise – and scientists know that one of the things endorphins do is send signals to your brain to help you feel happier.
      • When you stop exercising, your body automatically relaxes, and being relaxed feels really good (under Resources, see the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Kit - Be Kind to Yourself and Others, for a great, kid-friendly relaxation activity to demonstrate the relaxation value of the muscle-tight/muscle-relaxed contrast).
      • Exercise also helps you sleep better, so your body and your brain wake up more refreshed and rested, which helps you feel better, too.
      • Being active gives your mind a break and lets you think less about something that may be making you sad or worried.
      • AMA Youth Run Club makes your body stronger and makes your brain feel better, too.
  • Joining AMA Youth Run Club is one good way to stay active. Ask the kids to tell you about their other favorite types of physical or outdoor activity.

Talk Support Tips

  • (Recommended) Try this relaxation activity from Alberta Health Services' Elementary Mental Health Kit - Be Kind to Yourself and Others (pp. 79-81, attached to pdf file of this tip sheet). This relaxation activity demonstrates the difference between feeling tense, stressed and anxious and feeling relaxed, and teaches the children a skill they can apply to help manage stress.
  • (If time permits, play a game) Being active can occasionally feel like work...mostly it's fun!
As a [doctor/medical student], my favorite game of tag is called “Bandaid Tag”. Here’s how it’s played. The next time you’re outdoors at school, try it!
  • When you're tagged, you place a hand on the spot that was tagged and must keep your hand on that spot for the rest of the game.
  • If you get tagged a second time, you must place your other hand on that second spot. Now you have used up all your Bandaids.
  • If you're tagged a third time, you must go to the “hospital” (the sidelines) and do five jumping jacks to “get well” and rejoin the game.

Contact Janet Boyer, AMA Professional Affairs (780.482.0305 or 1.800.272.9680, ext. 5305) to obtain a small give-away item to distribute post-talk.

Resources

HELPFUL HINT: Talk to the run club coach before selecting your topic; for coach contact information, contact Hayley Degaust, Provincial Projects Coordinator, Ever Active Schools (Hayley@everactive.org | 780.454.4745)

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.