US Reporter


Running Toward Recovery: Veterans Unite Against PTSD

Running Toward Recovery Veterans Unite Against PTSD
Photo Courtesy: Rami Yulzari

By: Maria Williams

According to WebMD, physical activity offers numerous health advantages. Running, in particular, triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin—chemicals known to enhance mood. Research indicates that consistent running, whether moderate or vigorous, can bolster mental health as well as enhance memory and learning capabilities. Running outdoors also provides extra benefits, including mitigating feelings of loneliness and isolation, alleviating stress, and aiding in managing depression and anxiety.

Veteran, Runner, and Founder of “Running with Rami”

Rami Yulzari is an IDF veteran who bravely served during the First Lebanon War and has since navigated the challenges of living with PTSD. In search of healing and self-improvement, Rami turned to long-distance running, a decision that proved life-changing. He first experienced the profound therapeutic benefits of running after completing a marathon in 2011. Inspired by this personal breakthrough, Rami founded “Running with Rami,” an initiative dedicated to helping other veterans who struggle with PTSD find solace and recovery through running. The program is supported by American Friends of NATAL, and NATAL is an apolitical, internationally recognized and awarded non-profit with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, resiliency building, and trauma treatment.

His organization not only encourages physical activity but also emphasizes the creation of a supportive community, offering a space where veterans can share their experiences, challenges, and successes. Through “Running with Rami,” veterans engage in regular running sessions that help improve their mental health, build resilience, and foster a sense of camaraderie, all under Rami’s guidance and shared experiences.

“The first week of the war, I came to the Kfar Gaza community. Everyone was displaced from their homes following the events of October 7, 2024, and they had been temporarily relocated to a hotel,” Rami explains. “I was told by one woman, ‘Don’t be impressed by the fact that it’s a hotel, it’s a 5-star refugee camp.'” He continued, “At the end of my visit, it was clear to me that we had to do something for them. Due to the complexity of the situation in the first month of the war, it took time and a lot of patience to understand what would be helpful and how to organize it. Four months ago, we founded the running group. We came with one simple but very significant promise. True to the philosophy of long-distance running: ‘We are here to stay; we are with you until you return to your home.'”

Tranquil Training on the Beach

The team convenes weekly at the picturesque Shafim Beach, utilizing its serene environment as a training ground for both mind and body. Each session brings together about six to eight runners, creating an intimate group dynamic that allows for personalized attention and support. The presence of the ocean enhances the beauty of the practice and also contributes to the therapeutic ambiance, making each run a refreshing escape from daily stresses.

A Supportive Team Structure

Guiding the group is Ronen, the sole male member and a trainer with extensive experience in working with trauma victims. His expertise is vital in crafting training sessions that are not only physically engaging but also sensitive to the emotional needs of the participants. Alongside Ronen, a clinical social worker attends each session, providing professional therapeutic support. This multi-disciplinary approach ensures that the group not only works on physical fitness but also addresses the complex psychological aspects of living with PTSD. As the community grows, efforts are continuously made to welcome and integrate more participants into this nurturing environment.

Running and Mental Wellness Tips for Success

Anyone grappling with mental health issues is encouraged to consult with a healthcare professional. This step is crucial not only for safety but also for receiving tailored advice that aligns with individual needs. Drawing inspiration from groups like “Running with Rami,” individuals can learn that incorporating physical activity, such as running, into their routine may significantly enhance their overall wellness. For those finding it challenging to start or maintain a running habit, setting small, achievable goals is key. A commitment to moving for at least 30 minutes three to five times a week can lay a strong foundation for consistency, which is more beneficial than sporadic, intense workouts.

Building a Sustainable Running Routine

Embarking on a new running journey requires patience and persistence. It’s essential to allow yourself the time to adapt to a new routine, understanding that it might take anywhere from four to eight weeks to get comfortable with running, especially if you were not very active previously. To make this transition smoother, consider partnering with a friend who can provide motivation and accountability. Additionally, beginning each session with a gentle warm-up walk and simple stretches can prevent injuries and ease your body into more strenuous activity. Remember, being gentle with yourself and acknowledging your body’s signals is vital. If running feels too stressful, it might be beneficial to explore other forms of exercise temporarily. Setting goals and possibly using fitness apps can also help maintain a safe and effective running schedule.

A Time to Start Running During May Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, making it an ideal time to initiate a running program. This month-long observance serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health and provides a perfect opportunity to take proactive steps toward improving your own. Starting a running routine during this time can align with broader community efforts to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges. Whether you’re running to manage stress, improve your mood, or simply enjoy the outdoors, integrating physical activity into your daily routine can have profound benefits for your mental well-being.

Published by: Martin De Juan

Share this article


This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of US Reporter.