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How to Be Healthy Like a Marathon Runner

How to Be Healthy Like a Marathon Runner

What would be a great indicator that someone is remarkably healthy? Would running a marathon be proof enough? Don’t worry, I’m nowhere near ready for a marathon either, so that’s not where I’m going with this. 8)

Assuming running a marathon is a good benchmark, let’s push this idea a little farther. How would running a marathon after age 50 sound? How about after age 60? You get the idea: the older the marathon runner, the more remarkable the individual’s physical shape.

Can you guess the age of the oldest marathon runner in history? Last October, the world record went to Fauja Singh, who rightfully raised his arms in triumph as he crossed the finish line of the 26-mile Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and at the same time earned himself a title in the Guinness World Records. Want to see that for yourself?  There are several supporting photos in this well-illustrated article.

So how old was he? 100.

To what does he attribute his remarkable health and prowess? Being happy (as well as ginger curry and tea).

That would make him one of the healthiest people in the world, wouldn’t you say? And his recommendation is right in line with what research says about the topic. There is lots of evidence linking being happier, being healthier, and living longer. See my article Why Happier People Are Healthier on Positive Psychology News Daily for more details and sources.

Start with Being Happy
What does that mean for you, regular person for whom running a marathon seems as likely as taking a ride on the back of a flying giraffe? It means that, rather than fuss over how much you should exercise, how little you do exercise, and how much prouder you’d feel if you did exercise, you’d do better to channel that energy towards being happy. Being happy will rebalance your biochemical activity in a way that will naturally boost your desire to be physically active.

Our health promotion model

Our health promotion model

This is an application of the SaS Compass: that sleep, food, mood, and exercise are all interconnected, such that you can start with any habits to make improvements. So pick the easiest and most appealing place to start, not the one that feels like pushing rocks uphill.

If you are a health coach, the implication is similar: if you are working with people who are resistant to exercise, try letting it go for a while. See if some happiness-boosting activities give you better results. Getting out of a weakness zone and feeling happier will increase your clients’ general energy and therefore increase their desires to be a little more active. I bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

So what should you do to get happy?  Well, you’ll have to be a little patient for that one – it’s one tip per post, remember? 8)  Our next blog post will address the topic. In the meantime, you can check out our book which explores 20 different ways to boost happiness. (Frequent users: find our suggestions in the General and Mood sections.)

Think it’s too late for you to embark on the health journey? Blogger extraordinaire Jeremy McCarthy makes a compelling argument to prove just the opposite in You Don’t Stop Playing Because You Get Old

See you again in 2 weeks!  😉

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  • John Fithian

    M-J,
    Greetings! It was fun to talk with you at the Raleigh Airport last evening. Who can forget the picture of the 78 year-old man picking himself up at the finish line of the Boston Marathon this past year. What an inspiration…
    That, and the famous quote from Olympic champion wrestler Dan Gable keeps me going strong.
    “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy”.
    -John Fithian

    • Hi John! Thanks for your comment. I like the quote you shared, and I like the photo more – LOL! Hope to cross your path again at some point in the future. Warmly, MJ

MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds


MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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