Running is becoming a preferred way for improving the fitness level, the physical and mental health and for eliminating stress from the lives of a growing number of people around the world.
It is a fact that running is possibly one of the best exercises to help burn calories, lose any extra weight, reduce the risk of hypertension, obesity, diabetes type II and a number of other health problems. Best of all, regular running helps boost the hormones of happiness in the human body and can lead to a drastic improvement of the mental and emotional health as well.
Here are some of the ways in which becoming a runner will help improve your mentality and make you happier.
How running benefits your mental health:
1. Running helps resolve anxiety and depression
Studies have shown that regular exercising can help reduce the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline in the body, and boost the production of endorphins instead. Aerobic exercises, such as running and even moderate jogging can do wonders for you in this aspect.
It is a scientific fact that the symptoms of depression can be alleviated by engaging in moderate exercises 3 or more times a week, and even a 30 minute run 5 days a week can help people who have mild depression or anxiety related problems.
2. It will make you a happier person
Once again, the increased production of endorphins in the body when you are running will make your mood better. You will feel happier, and these feel-good hormones can even act as antidepressants. Not to mention the fact that they are great for alleviating physical pain, they boost the human immune system and can help slow down aging. There are studies which show that doing 30 minute runs for three weeks can significantly impact your mood, concentration and your quality of sleep.
3. Running will help improve your social interaction
If you choose to join a running group or to run with a running buddy, then the act of running will also help improve your social interactions and communications, which as we know are also essential for our mental wellbeing and for properly dealing with depression and anxiety. By communicating with other runners you will be able to help forget the usual stress which people suffering from anxiety and depression often encounter when they need to interact with others in normal everyday situations. Also, by running with others, you feel much more motivated and even obliged to go out for your run rather than choose to miss out on it, because the others will be expecting on you and could be counting on you. Last but not least, when you run with others you will most likely work on improving your running performance, so as to keep up with them.
4. Daily runs are known to successfully relieve stress
With the level of stress which most people need to deal with on a daily basis, running has been found to be one of the best ways to reduce the stress.
You can see for yourself by going for a short 20-30 minute run when you are feeling especially stressed or are suffering from bouts of anxiety. Some people choose to go for their runs early in the morning, and others prefer to do so later in the evening after a hard day at work. Whichever variant works for you – you should try to go for your daily run if you want to feel happier and stress free during the day.
5. It will improve your sleep
Often stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are closely associated with insomnia and sleeping problems. Thankfully, running or other regular aerobic exercises can help with this problem as well both pre-dawn or evening running can help restart your sleeping schedule, since your body will physically need rest and more energy in order to accomplish your next run. This will lead to a deeper and longer, non-interrupted sleeping schedule as well.
6. Running will increase your confidence
By improving your fitness level, your physical form as well as your running results, you will gain that much needed confidence which people with anxiety and depression tend to lack. Your self-esteem will grow and you will feel much more confident when interacting with other people at work or at a social level. It could help you find a new romance and partner as well!
7. It gives you a natural boost of energy as well as creativity
Becoming a regular runner is especially useful for people who lead sedentary lifestyles and who feel constant lethargy and fatigue. Regular exercises helps improve the creativity and boost the energy, which is why many people choose to go out for a pre-dawn run, so that they are properly fueled and ready for the hectic day ahead of them.
8. Running can help improve your brain power
Cardio exercising actually helps boost the production of new brain cells. Running will help improve your memory and your cognitive skills, due to the fact that in causes an increase of the production of brain cells in the area of the brain which is responsible for memory and for learning (the hippocampus).
It is no wonder that more groups, associations and organizations around the world are promoting running for the improvement of mental health. Just recently in the UK, a Mental Health Ambassador program was launched in which people members of more than 90 athletic clubs in the country were affiliated so that they can do some running and talking.
Participants have already found that engaging in these friendly daily runs, and with all the chatter during the runs, they have proven to be quite therapeutic. People who suffer from low-esteem, stress, lack of confidence, lack of energy and are living isolated have been attracted to join this program, as well as the numerous running therapeutic programs being set up worldwide.
According to the NHS, exercise can successfully substitute for antidepressants, just like counselling and cognitive behavioral therapy can.
So, now that you know what all the benefits are for your mental state, your wellbeing and for your personal happiness, all you need to do is put on those running shoes and just go out of the door for a run. Taking the first steps towards becoming a runner is always the most difficult part – but be sure that once you do it, you will definitely want to continue to go out for a run day after day!