Race Date: June 2, 2013
Start Location: Heydenshore Pavilion, Water Street, Whitby, on Lake Ontario adjacent to the Heydenshore Kiwanis Park.
Pre-Event Race Kit Pickup:
Friday, May 31 - 3-6pm - Running Free Ajax, 26 Church St. S, Ajax
Saturday, June 1 - 12-5pm - Running Free Ajax, 26 Church St. S, Ajax
Sunday, June 2 - 8am - Heydonshore Pavilion
Please note: To be more eco-friendly this year, we are asking race participants to bring their own waterbottle. Young's Water will be providing a truck for of water to fill your bottles.
Race Kit Pickup: 8:00 -9:00 am
Warm Up: 9:00 am
Start for Runners: 9:15 am
Start for Walkers: 9:30 am
Awards and Draw for Prizes: 11:00 am
A RUN WITH YOUR DOG - Just What the Doctor Ordered
by Eve Pearce
When you come back from a run with your dog, how do you feel? It’s no coincidence that you feel great and ready to tackle anything the day might throw at you. Running or even walking is well known for its benefits to both mental and physical health, but add in a furry companion and you gain even more. Research shows, as you would expect, if you own a dog you’re more likely to take part in exercise and to be in better shape – this was certainly the conclusion after a review of 35 scientific studies by researchers at the University of Calgary in 2011 – but the benefits of pet ownership go above and beyond getting you out more. Here we take a look at what you can gain by running or walking and the additional positives of taking along your dog.
Boosts Mental Health
According to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, at any given point around 10% of Canadians will be suffering from mental health problems, with depression and anxiety being amongst those most commonly experienced. Living hectic lives and the expectations we place upon ourselves doesn’t help matters, but by getting out for a run or walk in the fresh air, it can do wonders for your mood and anxiety levels. Physical activity helps with regards to this on two fronts. Firstly, it lowers levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, helping to induce feelings of relaxation and secondly, triggers the release of endorphins, often referred to as the body’s happiness hormones. There is also evidence that spending time with animals has a similar effect on cortisol and serotonin levels, which is why pets are increasingly used as a form of therapy for people recovering from illnesses to help boost their mood and reduce anxiety. Being out with your dog therefore adds to the effect brought by physical activity itself. Beyond the positive chemical changes that walking and running allow, exercise can also act as a constructive escape from your worries and provides some time where you can focus on yourself rather than all your other commitments.
While any form of exercise has the potential to lift mood, a UK study from 2010 demonstrated that additional benefits with regards to mood and self-esteem can be gained from outdoor activity in green spaces such as a park or nature trail. In this research that was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, benefits began to be felt after just 5 minutes of exercise and although the exact mechanism is unconfirmed, it is likely that the calming effect of being amongst natural surroundings helps significantly. Those whose mood showed most improvement in this study were the participants with existing mental health problems, but outdoor activity can conceivably help anyone to keep their spirits up.
There’s a lot of evidence that those people with wide social networks that allows interaction with others tend to be happier. Taking your dog out is a great opportunity to meet people; we all know how often other dog walkers will come over and speak to us. This is especially beneficial for people who live alone and are more at risk of becoming isolated, which is a known risk factor for mood disorders.
Protects the Heart
After cancer, heart disease is the most common cause of death amongst Canadians, so anything we can do to lower our risk of this is beneficial. Any activity that gets your heart beating faster helps to strengthen your cardiac muscle, which improves your circulation and therefore reduce the risk of a range of heart problems. However, this isn’t the only way in which running or walking can benefit your heart. As a general rule, taking regular exercise helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which are two of the main contributing factors in the development of heart disease. High blood pressure leads to damage of the blood vessels making them more susceptible to the build up of cholesterol, which when deposited causes them to narrow and reduce blood flow to the heart and other vital organs. While physical activity helps to lower the harmful LDL cholesterol, it also raises the helpful HDL cholesterol, which actually aids the removal of cholesterol from the arteries.
Again though, having a pet can benefit heart health further. A review of the evidence on the subject of pet ownership and cardiovascular risk by researchers at Stanford University Medical Center was published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology in 2011. This study of all the evidence to date indicated that dog owners had lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of fat which adversely affects the heart and is lowered through exercise). It was suggested that the benefits were seen owing to the improved mood and stress levels amongst those with dogs; this has a positive impact on the nervous system, which controls blood pressure and the metabolism of fat within the body. While taking your dog out can be no substitute for any medication you might be prescribed to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, the results of regular blood tests will reveal the additional benefit.
Aids Weight Loss
Walking or running 5km will burn around 350Kcal if you weigh 80Kg, more if your weight is higher. This is why taking your dog out regularly makes such an important contribution to weight loss, adding to the calorie reduction that can be achieved through changes to your diet. If you are overweight, weight loss doesn’t just reduce the strain on your heart, but your risk of diabetes is cut, you’re less likely to develop arthritis, as well as reducing the likelihood of bowel and breast cancers; as exercise itself can slash your risk of all of these, you gain even more. It’s also important not to forget the positive effects that weight loss can also have on mood and self esteem.
Beyond your Bones
When you take your dog out each day for exercise in the spring and summer, it’s a good way to top up your vitamin D levels. There are few foods rich in this nutrient, with fortified cereals being the only real source for anyone following a plant-based diet, while eggs and fortified milk can make a contribution if these are eaten. This bone building vitamin is essential to ward off osteoporosis; weight-bearing exercise such as walking and running is also ideal for maintaining bone strength. It is reported by Osteoporosis Canada that one in three women and one in five men in will experience a fracture during their lifetime as a result of this bone-thinning disease. However, it is not just osteoporosis that can be kept at bay by adequate vitamin D. There is increasing evidence that conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and depression may be more common at higher latitudes due to increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency here.
With so much to be gained through exercise with your dog, it won’t just be the charities that benefit from your participation in Furry Friends 5K.