Can Running Improve Your Mental Health?
Wellness Aug 13, 2018
Can Running Improve Your Mental Health?

When first beginning to exercise, you will likely hear that running is just as good for your mental health as it is for your overall physical health. You might be wondering “Is there really any truth to that?”

In the science of sports medicine, there have been many experiments performed that seek to understand the impact of exercising, specifically running, on people’s mental state. Here are just a few of the many reasons that running is beneficial for your mental health.

Reduced Stress

Running is a great way to combat the stresses of everyday life, and can chemically change the way that your body deals with stress. When running, the body releases chemicals known as endorphins which ultimately reduce stress and allow your body and mind to both relax.

Endorphins also help with calming the mind, enabling a more focused and controlled approach to complex situations. With regular running, you can alleviate stress over long periods of time and become a healthier and happier person both physically and mentally.

Depression And Anxiety

While running can reduce stress, sports scientists have noted a significant reduction in depression and anxiety in individuals who run regularly. The Mayo Clinic has released information about the impact of running on patients who are dealing with mild and severe forms of depression and anxiety. Engaging in regular running activity also promotes a healthy sleep cycle, which has been noted to improve the mental state of those suffering from anxiety or depression. Not only does the act of running enable the runner to produce serotonin, a chemical in the brain that counteracts depression, it also gives the individual something concrete to look forward to.

Goal Setting

Recovering from a mental illness is often a difficult experience that causes the individual to feel as though they have no control over anything in their lives. Running gives an individual something they can control that ultimately betters their lives and allows them to monitor their progress and see tangible results that may not have ever seemed possible before.

Goal setting is a form of therapy that is advocated for by many psychiatric professionals in treating several forms of mental illness, and these treatment plans often include exercising and weight-loss and weight-management as ways for individuals to combat the difficulties of coping with a mental illness.

Is There A Connection?

Running has not only been scientifically proven to help combat mental illness, but many mental health professionals actively advocate for their patients to take up running. Actively running can chemically alter the brain for the better and provides a positive alternative to preoccupations which might be harmful. By engaging in a regular running regimen, it is possible to manage both daily stress and bouts of mental illness.

While running has been scientifically proven to counteract issues caused by mental illness, it is not an alternative to treatment and therapy from a professional. If you continue to experience difficulties related to mental health, it is important to seek help.