As a runner, chances are you are already well aware of how much better and, yes, more beautiful you feel when you are moving. Appreciating what your body is capable of, sensing your muscles doing their job and working up a sweat all contribute to the natural glow that comes from being comfortable in your own skin. This isn’t the perceived beauty found in a vial or expensive jar—or “losing the last five pounds.” Instead, being beautiful from the inside out starts with feeling good. It’s all about you—happy, hydrated and well-rested.
It’s essential to take care of yourself. Your body is the most important piece of running equipment you have. Luckily, for the time-crunched among us, it just takes a little effort to make a big difference. Here are five places to start.
Get some Z’s.
Securing enough quality sleep is crucial for so much more than erasing those dark, under-eye circles. Turns out deep sleep is when your body does its most important recovery and repair work.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of slumber a night. But athletes can snooze for even longer. When she’s training hard, record-setting and medal-winning American distance runner Deena Kastor aims for 10 hours of shut-eye a night.
Hydrate like you mean it.
It’s no surprise that water helps regulate body temperature and carry vital nutrients throughout your body. Did you also know that staying hydrated lubricates joints, helps brain function, stabilizes blood pressure and heart rate, aids digestion and even keeps your metabolism going?
If you want visible evidence to drink up, dermatologists say water consumption helps to clear skin and may even contribute to a healthy glow. Start your day o right—after all, it’s been seven to nine hours (ideally!) since you’ve had anything to drink—with eight ounces or more of H2O.
Reducing stress is a constant challenge for women everywhere who are trying to balance work, fitness and life. We don’t have one magic answer for you, but we do have a few suggestions. Find a relaxing and rewarding hobby, take a bath, nap (remember sleep!), hang out with your puppy (it’s been scientifically proven that time spent with pets reduces stress), be thankful (for the ability to run, for an act of kindness or for someone in your life) or begin a meditation practice.
If all of this sounds like too much trouble, the effects of chronic stress are worse. Repetitive systemic bombardment by stress hormones like cortisol can negatively impact your metabolism and insulin production, suppress your immune system and cause heart disease, among other things. Finding your sense of calm is a giant leap toward inner and outer beauty.
This may bring back memories of your mom saying, “Never ever sleep in your makeup!” Not only do we agree with her, but the simple act of flossing is a good-for-you commitment to your health. Your teeth (as well as your dental hygienist) will thank you for it—and so will your heart.
Many scientific studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. It isn’t necessarily a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but flossing every morning or night (anecdotally speaking, nighttime flossing seems to lessen morning breath—just saying) is a smart part of overall health. Plus, more smiles, and smiles are beautiful!
Kick off your shoes and walk on soft grass or in warm sand. Jump in the waves, sit in the middle of a wide-open field or stand in the rain. Nature helps to put life in perspective when you look at this big, wonderful world and realize you are part of it. Outside time doesn’t have to mean a 10- mile run, but it certainly can. Hanging out at the playground with your kids, walking from the bus stop to your office or even a morning stroll are good opportunities to tune into the sights, sounds and smells all around you.
It’s been scientifically proven that spending time in nature improves your mood. Happy equals beautiful! It’s also good for your health, since you’re soaking up vitamin D, aka the immunity-boosting, nutrient-absorbing, healthy-bone “sunshine vitamin.”