There are sports in which the real benefits are obtained when we forget to overcome specific objectives or times, and we only seek to feel free.
If you feel that when trying to beat your marks and tear off a few seconds while doing the last time you went running, it causes you more discomfort than motivation, perhaps it is because you, like the propellers of this new trend, also need a change of mentality. And, although many may find it difficult, the fact of running for fun, without competitions, race rhythms, brands, times or kilometers can be much more beneficial and motivating than we imagine.
This is the idea behind ‘Free Running’, a new trend that seeks new motivations in one of the oldest sports that exist, and that for many can be more rewarding and less frustrating than the competitive version of running . Small pleasures such as enjoying nature, taking care of our health or concentrating on our displacement can create a form of neuronal stimulation that helps improve our mental abilities.
In fact, the mere purpose of enjoying life fully and improving our health both physically and psychically should be a sufficient motivation to perform any activity, if we consider that, in doing so, we are investing in a potentially longer life. And, what is more important, with higher quality.
It is true that the real pleasure of enjoying running only comes after a previous training phase, in which we accustom the body to the lack of oxygen that it entails and the aerobic effort it requires. Despite this, once we have passed this period, running long journeys can be a most pleasant activity, and reaching new places that have a special attraction for us can be all the stimulus we need.
The freedom to run … To run
Do not confuse ‘Free Running’ with the very similar, although not as accessible to all audiences, free running. The latter refers to a variant of the well-known parkour that was born in the late 80’s in France, based on a mode of urban displacement that consists of moving through any environment as efficiently and quickly as possible, bypassing all kinds of obstacles and performing acrobatics that often exceed the limits of recklessness.
Far from that, and although if you want to jump and do stunts you are more than welcome, the ‘Free Running’ is simply to run for fun and enjoy with the mere fact of doing so . You may be surprised to learn that something as simple as that, such as running freely through nature, is an important motor challenge: the unpredictable dynamics involved in moving through an unknown and irregular terrain requires considerable mental work, something that produces, in turn, a strong neuronal stimulation.
‘A sound mind in a sound body’
The great physical benefits of running are already widely known and supported by the scientific world, but recently a large number of studies have emerged regarding the benefit of less complex physical activities than running in improving our mental abilities.
The stimulation obtained with ‘Free running’ activates neuronal plasticity, which can help to produce new neuronal connections in our brain and, thus, improve our cognitive abilities. On the other hand, performing aerobic activities such as running also produces a neurogenesis effect (creation of new neurons) that until a while ago was unknown.
The movement involves complex cognitive processes, such as the perception of temporal, sensory space, attention, concentration, information analysis, decision making, etc. In turn, the release of having to be focused on a specific time or other limitations can also promote our creativity. If all this is added to the stimuli of carrying out this activity in nature and the endorphins that are generated by having reached a new place by our own means, the benefits are tripled.