The Aire Libre Running Podcast Episode 2: How running will alter your brain. Dr. Ben Martynoga.

 
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“For me I think of running as a moving form of mindfulness meditation. Because you don’t really have much option but to be very tuned into the present moment . You’re thinking about the sensation in your feet, in your legs. You’re almost certainly aware of your breathing. You’re thinking about where your next foot is going to fall, what route you’re going to take. I find it very easy to get into this more freewheeling mode of attention...”

— Dr. Ben Martynoga

For Episode 2 of The Aire Libre Running Podcast, we sat down with neuroscientist and writer Dr. Ben Martynoga, who as an avid runner himself, loves to look at how running affects the brain.

While Ben isn’t leading any of his own clinical studies, he acts as somewhat of a translator in his writing, helping us to understand the cutting edge of brain science. He’s spent the past decade and a half in the lab, looking at how the brain grows and works during our lifetime.

 And being a keen runner, Ben is curious to look at real evidence, and science that supports the effects and feelings many of us express about what running does for our wellbeing: how running can help us clear the mind, find focus, deal with stress, think more creatively, experience a “runner’s high” and impact our overall mental health.

 Ben in fact equates running with a type of mindfulness meditation, part of the reason his important work is so interesting to us at Aire Libre, and why we wanted to include him in this series of intimate conversations on discovering our world through running, travel, culture, spirituality and mindfulness.

 To dive deeper into subjects like these, improve your running and mindfulness practice while discovering remote corners of the world, don’t miss out on our upcoming running experiences.

We’re very grateful to Ben for taking the time to join us in this conversation. Enjoy.

About Ben Martynoga:

Ben Martynoga is a neuroscientist and science writer. After a decade at the forefront of brain research, he swapped his white coat for a pen, leaving his full-time lab role to focus on communicating science.  He is in demand as a speaker and has published books, chapters, blogs and podcasts. His articles appear in the Guardian, New Statesman, The newspaper, Long+Short magazine and the Financial Times. Increasingly, he feels the need to get up from his laptop and go out for a run. When he gets back to his desk, ideas always flow more easily. He tweets, occasionally, at @mountainogre .

Further Reading:

An overview of the runners brain:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2018/jun/21/what-does-running-do-to-your-brain

On the links between exercise and the brain function:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better

Specific studies and articles mentioned in episode:

  • Running improves attention, focus and information processing:
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-018-5247-x
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4929070/
    https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2016/08000/Interval_Running_Training_Improves_Cognitive.4.aspx

  • Aerobic fitness bolsters the brain’s executive functions:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25266425

  • A clear bridge between mind and body: knyurenine and stress:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27030575
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432817303303?via%3Dihub
    https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(14)01049-6

  • Meta-analysis showing the links between exercise and depression:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24026850

  • Dealing with the pain: cognitive reappraisal experiments with US military
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-018-9697-z

  • Runners high, the brain’s home-brew drugs and pain-killing:
    https://brill.com/abstract/journals/jpp/47/2/article-p183_4.xml
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002432058690233X?via%3Dihub
    https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/18/11/2523/291108
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-012-2495-5
    https://www.pnas.org/content/112/42/13105.long

  • Did humans evolve to run
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2018/mar/14/why-humans-are-optimised-for-endurance-running-not-speed

  • Running, attention and the default mode network:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5147411/

  • Green spaces lower anxiety levels and improve mental health:
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24320055

  • The Philadelphia experiment: greening up vacant lots and crime reduction:
    https://www.pnas.org/content/115/12/2946

  • Nature, experiencing awe and being a better human:
    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-21454-002
    https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2017-37794-001

  • Running, mindfulness and psychotherapy:
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/22/quick-steps-to-mindfulness-run-for-your-life

 
 
 

Meet Your Host: Daniel C. Bach

Daniel is a Canadian journalist, avid runner and cyclist, and long time Aire Libre ambassador. Currently, he is living and working in London, from where he travels constantly to explore new places through cycling and running. You might bump into him at one of our experiences soon.

Connect with Daniel via Instagram.

 

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