David Harbor reflects on running as a gratitude practice

AndOn a December Saturday in New York City, David Harbor found himself back in his old neighborhood. The Stranger Things And violent night The actor was taking part in a run with the charity Back on My Feet, which helps homeless people build independence, find community and work towards employment in part through running.

The race took place around Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, where Harbor lived at a time when he said he was struggling with addiction. While running, he couldn’t help but reflect on the trajectory of his own life and the lives of the runners around him.

“Being with this group and seeing all these inspiring people, who made such a great difference in their lives, was pretty overwhelming,” Harbor told Well + Good.

The run comes thanks to a partnership between Back On My Feet and athletic wear brand Brooks. Through December 14, Brooks is hosting a Buy Gear, Give Gear program, during which it will match purchases made on the Brooks website with donations of sneakers and apparel to Back on My Feet.

“It gives a lot of people who are struggling an opportunity to experience the benefits of physical exercise,” Harbor Brooks says of Gear’s partnership with Gear, Back on My Feet.

It’s a cause that’s important to Harbor thanks to the role running has played in his own life. Like many people, Harbor struggled with anxiety during the pandemic and used running as a way to cope. As with the Back on My Feet program, getting up and committing to physical activity helped her build strength physically and mentally. Running has been proven to have multiple mental health benefits such as improving your mood and building focus.

Harbor also shared that Back on My Feet Run reminds her of the power of connection and cultivating gratitude. By focusing on the task of putting one foot in front of the other, you tune into the incredible wisdom and power embedded in your bones and muscles—something we can all share. A gratitude practice is a proven method to reduce stress and increase happiness, and studies have shown that being connected to one’s community is “a significant predictor of mental health and well-being later in life.” As Harbor found, running turns out to be a great way to do both.

“There’s something about this communal race where, no matter our circumstances in life, we’re all human,” says Harber. “There’s something about it that grounds you in the present moment and it makes you grateful for your physical abilities and it connects you with other people in a common, deep thing that many of us can do together.”

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