The weather’s turning as winter slides into spring. The days are longer and the sun is showing up more often. For many of us, it means it’s an invitation to spend more time outside, to emerge from hibernation for fresh air and outdoor exercise. Sure, the gym has been great, but it’s time to see the sky again. And what better time of year to pursue that life goal of being someone who runs? Here are seven good reasons why you might want to start running.

7 Reasons to Start Running

Because you can

Let’s tackle this myth off the top. Some people believe they can’t run, because they just aren’t “runners.” The truth is that there’s no such thing as a runner, there are only people who choose to run. Trust me, nearly everyone can do it. You don’t have to have started running as a kid. You don’t need running genes. You don’t need to look a certain way. You just need to put one foot in front of the other. Go your own pace. Go your own places. Walk. Walk and run. Just go. Here are a few tips on how to start running.

Running extends your life

A 2014 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at over 55,000 adults and found that even short amounts of running are associated with reduced risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. So running may make you live longer, healthier. What better reason is there?

It’s great “me” time

Need time alone? Running is the perfect activity for you. It’s an opportunity to spend some time thinking, or zoning out, or listening to music, or a podcast, or the birds. Find a place you love, whether it’s city sidewalks, a lakefront trail, a quiet forest, or a treadmill at the gym. It doesn’t really matter where you go, you can lose yourself anywhere while you run alone.

It’s great social event

Running can also be an outstanding social occasion. Nearly every city and town has groups of people who get together a couple times a week to run—from casual crews to fast-paced near-professional outfits. Without fail, running groups are supportive, welcoming and encouraging, and a great way to meet people, make new friends and become a better runner, if that’s what you’re after.

7 Reasons to Start Running
It’s good for your mental health

It’s common knowledge that aerobic exercise, such as running, is good for your physical health and cardiovascular fitness. But did you know that regular jogging or fast walking have been shown to reduce symptoms of clinical depression? And that’s not all. Running’s benefits for the brain are many, including enhancing your memory, guarding against the effects of aging, mitigating anxiety and improving your ability to learn.

It’s inexpensive

As sports go, it doesn’t get much simpler or cheaper that running—especially when you’re starting out. All you need is a pair of running shoes, and they don’t need to be expensive. No membership, no fancy gear. Sure, you can use a smartwatch and a hat and sunglasses, but you probably have that stuff anyway. Just lace up your runners and head out the door. I’d also recommend sunscreen, but that’s me.

You’re in total control

The best part of running is that it’s all about you. There are no competitors coming at you, no referees, no judges, no teammates relying on you. Unless you’re a high level athlete, no one is paying any attention to your form, your stride rate, or your time. It’s just you. Set some goals if you want, and measure your progress, or simply head out the door and put one foot in front of the other and let time and distance fly.

What are your reasons for running—or not running? Spill them in the comments below!

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