Keeping you ON PACE

For many of us, early fall means back to school. Early fall is also when we attempt to tackle a never-ending list of errands and projects that need to be done. My fall days are filled with establishing homework rituals, transporting children, scheduling afterschool activities, and returning to work projects that were delayed during the carefree days of summer. It seems that there are never enough hours in the day, and I constantly attempt new time management strategies to maximize my efficiency. Before long, my executive functioning skills are challenged and my mind seems to go into overdrive trying to piece my days and responsibilities together. I begin to feel my anxiety and stress levels increase. I begin to feel my problem solving skills and clear thinking dissolving away. So I attempt to prevent, or at least limit, this unraveling by ensuring I complete one daily activity–my run.

Going for a run during a demanding period permits the brain to wander and escape from executive thinking. And studies show that exercise actually boosts creativity. The opportunity to think creatively allows me to find innovative solutions to challenges. These challenges may be related to my children, my work, my home or my relationships. The chance to think clearly and creatively also allows me to contemplate opportunities that have presented themselves to me, and determine a plan of action. Creative thinking is a refreshing vacation for my brain and what follows is an improved ability to concentrate and accomplish.

Andrea Mitchell, a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy, states, “We see many people increasing their mileage in the fall. Unlike those who run in the spring and summer to help manage their weight, fall runners are more interested in the benefits to their mind. Fall runners enjoy a mental break from the daily grind and often report being happier and more productive because they spend time running.”

I love to run in the fall in New England. It stimulates my creative thinking. The changing leaves never cease to amaze me. The comfortable temperature and drier air are a welcome change to managing the oppressive August humidity. It’s a celebration, a gift, an indulgence to enjoy before winter arrives.

Later today, I plan to head out for a run. I will run without my to-do list, and without my smartphone. I will pay attention to the colors, the sounds, the breeze and I will let my mind wander. And I know I will finish the run revitalized, full of ideas and inspired to stay on pace.


Michelle Collie PT, DPT, MS, OCS is a Physical Therapist and the owner and CEO of Performance Physical Therapy. She lives on the East Side of Providence with her husband and 2 children. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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