Take Your Fitness Routine to the Next Level and Help Others in the Process

Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).

Running is one of those sports that offers benefits for overall health and wellness. It can be done with a group or alone, outdoors or inside on exercise equipment, and the best part? It’s free! There’s no need for a gym membership or fancy equipment. It’s really just about investing in a good pair of sneakers and enjoying the mental and health benefits of a great run.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to take that one step further once you begin to experience more energy, better sleep, more muscle and a lean body. I like a good challenge, so when I started marathon running in 2011, I was ready to accept what the sport could offer. Now, 119 marathons later, I have no plans of stopping. Here’s why:

My professional journey includes an expansive background in the healthcare field. I have personally experienced the health benefits of the sport and I have seen patients and friends transform themselves because they have committed to staying in shape and making healthy lifestyle choices. Running offers incredible benefits, but perhaps the No. 1 positive factor involves the heart and lungs. A long-distance run makes you breathe harder, strengthening and purifying the lungs. And as with any muscle, the heart pumping fast grows stronger and more capable, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Marathon running has allowed me to travel the world, learning about different cultures and experiencing the customs of incredible places. My journey has included trips to Mumbai, India; Paris, France; Shanghai and Beijing, China; London; and Berlin, Germany. It has expanded my network of experienced runners and has allowed me to connect with great people all around the world …

… Which has lead to another reason I continue to participate in so many marathons each year. As the founder of a nonprofit organization, LEAP Foundation DC, we work to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth in the Washington, D.C., area and around the world. When I run, I run with others in mind. I recently participated in the Berlin Marathon, where I represented the United States and also, as a member of Team EMPOWER, Smile Train. Other charities supported by our organizations address disease prevention and childhood obesity, like Kids Run Miami, Mentor Me India and the American Institute of Cancer Research. Running on behalf of these valuable organizations has allowed me raise funds and advocate for them, while at the same time expanding on my own mission.

Through both my medical staffing company, Lawrence Executive Alliance of Professionals (LEAP), LLC, and its partner nonprofit, LEAP Foundation, DC, we encourage young people to also discover the benefits of regular exercise. We want our mentees and patients to understand that participating in a sport, such as marathon running, increases the chances for future success. In fact, Students Run LA, an organization with which we have worked closely for several years, has found that 99 percent of students who participate in its programming graduate from high school and 95 percent will go on to complete college. From a health standpoint, 66 percent of students report that they voluntarily spend more time exercising.

Are you ready to take your fitness routine to the next level? Consider long-distance running!