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Cigna – Vitality and Running

Cigna® is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Denver Colfax Marathon. The Denver Colfax Marathon in the Rocky Mountains is a beautiful location and provides the opportunity to meet athletes from all over Colorado, the nation and even the world.

Employees of Cigna run in this event to engage and support our community. The team is involved in the event in a variety of ways, from the Health and Fitness Expo, volunteering at the event, as well as running in the full marathon, half marathon and relays. Jason Youngblood is Senior Director, Behavioral Health for Cigna. Jason is set to run this year and he shares how vitality plays an important role is over all well-being.

Vitality & Running

How marathons can help shape communities and drive social connections

When you hear talk about Vitality it is the ability to pursue life with health, strength, and energy. There are several dimensions of health which impact our vitality levels including physical, spiritual, emotional, environmental, social, occupational, financial, and intellectual (1.) As individuals are able to address these various dimensions of health, it creates space to advance relatedness, autonomy, and competence in our daily lives (1.) The social dimension is essential for humans to thrive. It is made up of many aspects such as having a strong community of family, friends, and colleagues; experiencing a sense of belonging; and developing effective communication skills.

When we feel connected to others and that we “belong”, it reduces feelings of isolation and lowers the risk of developing a mental health challenge. In the United States, less than one in five adults has high levels of vitality, which jeopardizes one’s ability to engage and contribute, impacting families, communities, work, and more (1). Additionally, we know that many Americans are lonely and lack meaningful social relationships, as three in five U.S. adults report feeling like they are left out, poorly understood, and lacking companionship (2).

“I believe running clubs and sponsored running events such as the Denver Colfax Marathon create opportunities for individuals to feel connected to their community, can assist with pursuing lifelong physical activity, and help cities flourish. I am looking forward to running and connecting with the runners in Denver Colfax Marathon.” stated Jason Youngblood, Cigna’s Senior Director of Behavioral Health.

Feeling a sense of belonging can come from many sources, and “a run club is no exception as running with others can actually fast-track that feeling of being part of a community” (3.) Jason enjoys running with his close friends and members of his family. Running clubs can also encourage individuals to be more consistent with their workouts, stay accountable to their goals, and create moments of joy (3). Jason often notices on race day having the community of spectators and fellow runners around him keeps him going, “I like to have my name written in large letters across my race number bib, because when people are encouraging me by name in those last few miles it helps me continue until I cross the finish line.”

Marathon participation in the U.S. has risen 255% since 1980 which is beneficial for cities across this country (4.) Running events such as marathons can help shape communities and drive social connections, which can also help individuals cultivate positive health behaviors. For example, the 1976 New York City Marathon changed the way running happened in other cities. “By hosting a marathon in Denver, we are opening up eyes within our city. After running our race, locals discover new places to run, walk and bike. Denver is filled with terrain that allows people to remain active every day and that benefits the overall health of the community.” Andrea Dowdy, CEO Denver Colfax Marathon shared.

To learn more about Vitality: The Next Generation Measure of Health Click Here.

(1) The State of Vitality in the United States (; Morning Consult from 5/17-6/9/22

(2) Survey: 3 Out Of 5 Americans Are Lonely : Shots – Health News : NPR 1/23/20

(3) Run Clubs Offer the Social Connections We Need for Self-Care ( 5/23/22

(4) Why do people run marathons? – BBC Future 9/30/22