Running has a lot of potential health benefits related to building endurance, strength, and overall physical health. However, did you know about the amazing mental health benefits of running? When you choose to get moving, whether it be with running, briskly walking on a treadmill, or some other form of cardio, both your body and mind will thank you.
Let’s dive into the top five benefits of running for your mental health.
1. Stress Management
Many people live under a cloud of chronic stress due to their fast paced lifestyles. While some stress is good, too much can have some major health related consequences both mentally and physically (such as heart disease and depression). Participating in regular stress management is crucial for living a long healthy life and consistent exercise, such as running, is one of the easiest ways to do this.
Life gets messy sometimes. Being able to cope with situations in your life that are tough require some resilience. Running has been shown to positively impact the way you respond to and navigate the rocky patches in your life. When experiencing a particularly tough day (or longer), there’s a reason for the expression people use that they are going to go out for a walk or run to “clear their heads” and get some perspective on their life.
3. Overall Mood Booster
As your body moves and the blood gets pumping, your body releases endorphins. These hormones are the brain’s natural mood boosters (no drugs required!). Ultimately, this leaves you with a better sense of well-being. The extra blood flow and endorphins also boosts your productivity and creativity. If you’re having a hard time focusing on something, it might be time for a running break to gain some new inspiration.
4. Improve Memory
Cardiovascular exercise pushes extra blood to your vital organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. Running has been shown to reduce cognitive decline with aging thanks to the blood and oxygen boost. Plus, you will probably notice having an easier time doing hard tasks and making decisions.
5. Holistic Management of Depression
Thanks to the changes in your hormone balance within the body and brain, running is an excellent way to manage mental health issues. In fact, some studies show it is as effective as medication for addressing issues like depression and anxiety. This makes taking the time to exercise regularly a no-brainer.
How to Get Started
Hopefully, the five benefits listed above have you feeling motivated to run consistently. However, this can be easier said than done if you have been sedentary or feeling generally unmotivated. If you need a few ideas to boost your motivation levels, consider these tips below.
- Be consistent. It is always the hardest to get started with a new fitness goal. First, use your willpower and get on a schedule. Over time, you will feel great and notice that it takes practically no motivation to keep going- you just have to get there!
- Start at your fitness level. If you haven’t been running regularly at this point, make sure to start slowly for both your physical and mental health. Choose a distance and pace that you can tolerate and then slowly build from there—no need to force it, as this will quickly reduce your motivation levels.
- Find an accountability partner or group. Having a workout partner can make a world of difference in running or any other type of workout. You can buddy up with a friend, family member, or co-worker if possible. Otherwise, there are tons of online communities that you can join as well. If you plan to run on a treadmill, you may consider joining a digital platform that comes with the support of a personal trainer and a worldwide community.
- Choose equipment that helps you stay successful. Don’t forget to wear comfortable light running clothes and shoes that properly accommodate your feet. Plus, don’t be afraid to utilize any tools to boost your motivation and keep you consistently active, such as a home treadmill.
Whether you’re already an avid runner or you’ve considered getting started, you now have five new reasons to run. At times of the year when you can get outside to run, you can also get a hefty dose of health-boosting vitamin D. Plus, getting out in the fresh air has been shown to boost further all the fantastic mental health benefits of running too.
The next time you reach for those running shoes to hit the trail or treadmill belt, remember all the great things you’re doing for your body and mind and feel proud!