For most health conscious women, your workout time may be one of the only moments you can have to yourself. You can finally plug in your earphones, and let your favorite podcast, or play list, be the background sound to your first great sweat of the week. Unfortunately drowning out the world to NPR, or your self titled “Beyonce' Gets Bootylicious” playlist, may be a disservice not only to your mind, but to your body.
In our quest for well-rounded wellness, our minds can be left sizzling on the back burner behind migraine inducing deadlines at work, and the technological detachment of Pintrist. Our minds need time to reflect, and four hours of sleep each night is not enough. Meditation has been shown to increase brain volume, fight off depression, and slow brain aging. But who has time to sit down for a few hours each day to completely quiet the mind? It seems there is always too much going on and being alone with one's thoughts can be intimidating. A study at the University of Virginia found that people would prefer administer electric shocks to themselves rather than sit and reflect with nothing but their own thoughts for 15 minutes. This phenomenon of anxiety towards isolated reflection comes from living an overstimulated lifestyle, and although most of us have too many responsibilities to disappear into a meditation room for 3 hours, each day, you can get many meditative benefits by running without your earphones, thereby giving your mind some much needed quiet time.
Running with earphones can not only be distracting, but can also be dangerous. If you are anywhere near cars you could be putting yourself at risk. A study from the University of Maryland Hospital For Children found that between 2004 and 2011, injuries among pedestrians wearing headphones tripled. A scary statistic when you consider how many drivers you're running by are paying more attention to their own technologies than the crosswalk.
Your playlist or podcast can also draw your attention away from the signals your body is trying to give you, and distract you from effective running posture. Your breath patterns can also be at the mercy of the beat playing in between your ears. Steady and consistent breath rates are vitally important for a good run but are prone to fluctuate with teach song. If you are running to an artificial rhythm instead of concentratingon maintaining steady breaths, your speed and distance can suffer.
With all that said, there is no reason to throw your ear-buds away. An inspirational song can be the difference between a victory lap, and cutting your lackluster workout short for a happy hour, but the experts say give your ear-buds a break once every other run. Ear-bud breaks can also give you the opportunity to become conscious of your running environment. Run plugged in every day and you could miss out on the wildlife you normally take for granted or the fact that the Channing Tatum of your neighborhood is reaching out to give you a high-five as he rides by on his bike (something that actually happened to me this morning).
Trust me, unplug.
Writer/ Creative Content Specialist
Jillian started her career in creative content as a Writer and Editor for Sister Speak Magazine while getting her BA in English from James Madison University, but it was her commitment to community service and veteran's affairs that lead her home to Virago.