Liberté, or "liberty”, is a concept so important to the French, it is enshrined as part of their national motto. As a symbol of friendship and freedom, the French even gifted the statue of liberty to the Americans in the late 19th century.
But the yearning for freedom is not just limited to the French: everyone values it. Often associated with freedom from servitude to oppressive restrictions, these days liberty can mean freedom in several ways.
Noted American author and Nobel prize winner, John Steinbeck once noted about the people he met, “They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something.”
Indeed the notion of freedom is closely linked with movement. That is why we travel, we make changes, we exercise.
Ask any cycling enthusiast and he will tell you that cycling is not merely a means of commuting. It is not even a mere form of exercise, though its physical benefits are not in question. It is a chance for him to recoup during stressful times: the ability to leave behind the tedium of daily life and pedalling away from his troubles. At that moment he gains an incredible sense of freedom and solitude. It is rewarding physically, mentally and perhaps most important, emotionally.
Swimming is the same. With public pools closed during the pandemic, many people in the UK have taken to “wild swimming”. Wild swimming refers to swimming in the open sea, rivers or lakes. Proponents claim that swimming in open areas, especially when the water is cold, yields a sense of calm and freedom: connecting with nature.
So it is with running too. A friend who’s an avid runner has this to say, “Running gives one a sense of liberation...breaking free. The ability to run...not away from something in fear, but towards something with a sense of hope and purpose...somehow feels empowering. Uplifting. Perhaps it’s the feeling of the wind in your face, watching the road whiz by under your feet...the rush of blood through the system as the heart beats faster and the lungs breathe in the rich oxygenating air. It proves that man was never designed for a sedentary existence, but for robust exertion, for creating, being in motion, experiencing ever-changing sights and sounds. Perhaps it is the pure sensory joy of being, the inestimable gift of conscious, meaningful existence. Being ALIVE.” Well said.
Physical exercise, be it swimming, cycling or running, is known to release endorphins in the brain. Often known as the happiness hormones, endorphins are produced by your pituitary gland and central nervous system. They can help relieve pain, reduce emotional stress, and offer a sense of well-being. Endorphins, generally known as a “runner’s high”, can kick in during a run or afterwards. Most runners will tell you that they invariably experience an elevated mood and feel less stress after a good run.
Exercise will not result in good physical health, it also promotes good mental and emotional well-being. This is backed scientifically, not just anecdotally. The next time you suffer a case of “blah”, be it from extended Zoom sessions or otherwise, it is time to put on your exercise gears and exercise! While you are at it, don't forget your snazzy pair of Sunday Shades. Sunday Shades are fun and colourful. Not only do they make you look good while protecting you from the sun, but they will also surely lift the mood of everyone around you. Check them out here!