Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at

Exercise has many health benefits. In particular, running for me has been a great stress relief and a way to cope with life’s challenges. When I go for a run, I take my mind off of my problems and literally focus on the road in front of me. When I was training for my first marathon, I had to sometimes go on runs when I did not feel like it. However, my perspective is that you always feel better having gone on run than if you had not gone on one. Running has also been beneficial to my well-being and mental health.

Though not every run is done in a group format, I have found that joining a running group helps promote feelings of togetherness and connectedness. One of my favorite stories about running is when I joined a running group on a whim. Though the group was already established, they let me join last minute and run a race with them across a portion of Okinawa’s main island. Despite being unsure about my own running ability, joining the group on this endeavor was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. The last time I had been running in a group was back in high school cross country, so running in a group across an island in Japan was a major accomplishment.

Whether you decide to run in a race or just go on a solo run for some fresh air exercise, there is no correct way try this physical activity. Running is all about your pace and your miles, not about doing it perfectly. Joining the race felt uncomfortable at first, but eventually led to making great memories. What I enjoyed most about running in a team was that everyone was there with you in your struggle and were there to back you up.

Running is also a great way to get out of your dorm or barracks and off your electronic devices. This activity helped create a sense of self and community for me and it was also a good way to take a break from the computer, watching movies, or the like. On Okinawa, running allowed me to explore my surroundings and took me to so many places including nearby castles and areas around them.

Besides gaining some new running buddies and exploring new places I might not have if I’d only stuck to driving or staying indoors, this activity also had an effect on my general wellbeing. For instance, I developed a greater sense of self-worth and confidence as I became a seasoned runner. This was especially true when I was training for my first marathon. I did not believe I could ever run a half marathon, needless to say a full one, but once I gradually increased my mileage, I found that I was breaking down walls that I used to have in front of me.

Running is beneficial no matter whether you are a runner, want to get into running, or have many years of running under your belt. It is an inexpensive hobby that will get you out of your house and your heartrate pumping while also allowing you to push your physical and mental boundaries. It’s a great hobby that has helped me on so many levels. Give it a try!


Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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