On the 28th May 2017, a team from Avecto will be taking part in the Great Manchester Run to raise money for Stockport Mind. As an employee of Avecto and avid runner, this feels like a perfect partnership. I strongly believe that running makes me better at my job and can have a hugely positive impact on everybody's mental health.

The physical health benefits of running are well understood. It is the best form of exercise for weight loss, and is great for all over muscle strengthening, boosts the immune system, and improves joint and heart health (providing you build up sensibly). Over the years, I have run for all those reasons, but I now feel that there are more important reasons to lace up my trainers. Here are my top reasons why I encourage you to do the same:

Running makes you happier

Most of us have hectic lives, stressful jobs and home and family commitments. Often it can all feel too much and it can feel hard to cope. Running gives me time on my own to put everything in perspective. I always finish a run feeling better than when I started, normally full of positivity for the day ahead and life in general. This article explains some of the science behind why this happens. From personal experience, I know that running reduces stress levels and helps me overcome feelings of depression. I feel it makes me a more considerate husband and a more understanding father and allows me to find a better balance in my life.

Running makes you more productive

One of my favourite descriptions on this topic is by Dr. Mike Evans in his excellent video on Increasing Your Productivity with Exercise. He highlights improvements to self-esteem, anxiety, depression, social well-being and reduced stress. Going for a run also allows you to clear your head and problem solve. I will regularly return from a run feeling refreshed and with a clear idea of how I am going to tackle difficult problems. The correlation is well recognised, and many companies encourage physical activity for this reason.

Running teaches you about life

Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it”. Running has taught me that I am capable of a lot more than I ever thought possible, to not put limits on my ambitions, and to go and chase my dreams. A lot of simple running training techniques can also be applied to software development and life in general – breaking the seemingly impossible into easy chunks, using feedback to adapt plans, addressing rather than ignoring pain points, looking for constant improvement, and thinking about and enjoying the process rather than just the outcome.

Runners are awesome!

There is a well-known saying that you should surround yourself with people who reflect who and what you want to be. I have found runners to be the most positive, inspirational, and supportive group of people that I have met. Kathrine Switzer said “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”. The running world is full of inspiring people like Kathrine Switzer, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Avecto encourages the same values, and this makes it a great company to work for.

Running is fun

My children run everywhere, and they will laugh whilst they are doing it. It is the most natural thing in the world. I strongly feel that we should fill our lives with fun, and have fun doing the things that fill our lives! I encourage everyone to try to get back to the childlike joy of running, and to do it with a smile on their face. Far from the myth of the loneliness of the long-distance runner, running can be can be great for your social life – try joining a Couch to 5k course, try a parkrun, or join your local running club, there is something for everyone, so keep experimenting until you find something you enjoy. If you feel like it, run like Phoebe from Friends!

I hope that I have persuaded you to give running a go. If it sounds like something you would like to try, keep an eye out for my follow up blog where I will be sharing some hints and tips for getting started. If you are not convinced, please join me in supporting our amazing team from Avecto running the Great Manchester Run for Stockport Mind – you can donate here.