OGDEN -- Marathon runner, author and 1972 U.S. Olympian Jeff Galloway spoke Wednesday morning to runners, race officials and spectators on the role of physical activity in boosting mental health.
The Zions Bank Ogden Marathon is Saturday.
Galloway, an Atlanta native, presented a synopsis of his book "Fit Kids-Smarter Kids," in which he wrote of the ties between exercise and increased mental function.
"Exercise turns on circuits in the brain," Galloway said at the "Marathon Week" kickoff breakfast at Weber State University. "With increased exercise, kids think better, feel better and are more able to achieve goals in their lives."
Having been overweight in his early years, Galloway said, he is familiar with the difficulties people face in making lifestyle changes and becoming more active.
"Most kids aren't going to do anything without a reason or a goal," Galloway said of children's tendency to avoid physical exertion. "Events like this (the Ogden Marathon) give kids the opportunity and reason to exercise and, hopefully, stay with it."
Layton resident, WSU student and former "The Biggest Loser" contestant Jackson Carter -- who lost 138 pounds on the popular television program -- also attended the marathon kickoff breakfast, posing for pictures with fans and offering words of encouragement about their fitness goals.
Carter said he could attest to the impact of exercise in his own life.
"When I began exercising, I became less depressed and noticed I was functioning better mentally," he said.
Saturday's 13th annual Ogden Marathon, put on by the GOAL Foundation, will include a full marathon, a half marathon, a 5K run and a KidsK run, intended to get youths involved in the event's activities.
"The program the GOAL Foundation has put in place has enabled the enhancement of fitness and health in the community," Galloway said.
"I do a lot of traveling and visit a lot of different places, but the people in Ogden are more excited about fitness than the people in most any other place I have been."
This race will mark Galloway's 179th marathon. Carter said he will be running in the half marathon.