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Modern life in Iran: Running in a Hijab


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I'm running around Iran dressed in a hijab, a t-shirt and running tights. The temperature can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius here, so I’ve been drinking a lot.

As I left the apartment for my run, sweat trickles down my back. I knew it was just my body's reaction to the change in climate; so I quickly shake the thought off and begin my run uphill with my friend who, as a guy, has the privilege of running in shorts here.

But I'm soon running a few metres behind him, the air now feels thick and I’m struggling to catch my breath. I soon start contemplating passing out, and for some reason thinking that I’ve used up 40% of my energy. However, I know I'm stronger, and with that thought, I press on up the hill. 


Even though it's early in the morning, Iranians are already out on the streets and some are also going on their morning jog. Tehran is beginning to pulsate with life; the traffic is growing with every minute that passes. You can feel the might and power of this city.

Running with my friend makes me feel free; it’s liberating and has a positive impact on our circulatory and respiratory system, but I believe that there are also neurological benefits of physical exercise as well as indirect effects on one's intelligence and creativity. 


The body-brain relationship is one that has fascinated many scientists throughout the years. Thanks to numerous studies, many links between the mind and body have been discovered. To keep our brain in top shape, we have to condition it.

The first reaction, which confirms the positive effect of physical exercise is the release of endorphins in the brain. This has an impact on the brain’s activity at its core, and a positive effect on one's blood pressure. Furthermore, whilst running, our brains generate certain patterns of movement, which are linked to a strong and long lasting electro cardiology. This activity demands the engagement of both lobes, in contrast to lateralisation exercises, in which one lobe is dominant.

Lateralisation is the functional asymmetry between the left and right side of the body, arising from a difference in build and function of the two. It manifests itself, for instance, in more advanced mobility of the right limbs than the left, as well as the brain registering a larger number of stimuli from one side of the body.

Lateralisation involves one half of the brain becoming dominant over the other. During this process, certain areas of the brain directly correspond to functions and actions. Running helps to engage both halves, and therefore carries many benefits e.g. increased creativity.

Another positive effect of exercise is the release of neurotransmitters. It has been proven that exercise increases levels of serotonin and dopamine - important neurotransmitters that influence our emotions and moods.

If I can go for a run up a hill in 40 degree heat whilst wearing a hijab; then so can you!

You can find out more about Karolina's time in Iran here. Watch her video interview here.

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