Exercising and staying fit are chores that only grow more important as time goes on. We’re all getting older, and the world around us gets more stressful, too. Running is a particularly popular and effective way to meet your fitness needs. It’s also very affordable; as long as you have a pair of shoes and a supply of motivation, you’re ready to run! In terms of equipment and facilities required, running is one of the most affordable of all fitness options.
Running doesn’t just improve your health and tone up your body. Did you know it’s good for your mental health, too? Here are seven quality mental health benefits that regular running can provide:
1. Busting Stress And Getting Happy
Going for a run is a terrific idea if you’re coming off a stressful, challenging day at work. Every sort of aerobic exercise is good for counteracting the unwanted hormones produced by extended periods of stress. (Cortisol is the most famous – but certainly not the only – stress hormone.) Exercise balances out those stress hormones by producing their positive counterparts, endorphins. Endorphin production is vital for mental health; these hormones are effectively all-natural antidepressants that elevate your mood. Endorphins are responsible for the celebrated “runner’s high” that brings peace and contentment to long runs.
2. Encouraging Socializing
Running motivates us to get out into the world, and this is a process that can easily accommodate collaboration with friends, family members, and coworkers. Running is an excellent way to bond with others who share your interest in fitness. You can even turn your passion for running into an engine driving you toward new relationships by joining a group run to meet new people. Keep an eye out for these events in the spring in particular.
3. Stabilizing Sleep Cycles
Running does use up your energy, but it does it in the healthiest possible way. Unlike more stressful pursuits, running tires you out without producing an accompanying feeling of exhaustion in your mind. The low energy levels and need for rest you experience after a good run will decrease the likelihood of insomnia and encourage your body to seek a healthy sleep cycle. Tiring yourself out with running can boost the quality of your sleep as well as make its schedule more regular. A healthy sleep schedule plays a huge role in maintaining a positive mood!
4. Boosting Energy Levels
Although we were just talking about the way running burns up energy, it also provides you with more. A contradiction? Not at all! Running regularly encourages your body to adapt to a more high-energy status quo. Building a consistent fitness schedule that includes at least three aerobic exercise sessions each week can actually eliminate chronic fatigue and lethargy. Aerobic exercise boosts your overall energy levels by encouraging better blood flow throughout your body, including your brain. This effect becomes a round-the-clock boost that provides better energy and motivation all the time, not just when you hit the track.
5. Improving Self-Esteem
Setting aside the issue of running socially discussed above, running is a great solitary pursuit. Every time you run, you’re challenging yourself to accomplish a worthy goal. By reaching goals and then setting new ones, you’re training yourself to follow through on good intentions and achieve meaningful successes according to these professionals in mental health. Turning your running into a series of challenging goals and slowly but surely meeting them is a terrific confidence booster. As long as you remain committed, running can teach you a host of positive mental lessons.
6. Preserving Youthful Mental Abilities
Running has tremendous short-term benefits in both the physical and mental realms, but its long-term effects improve your mind, too. Research shows that regular running maintains and preserves the health of your brain and nervous system. That translates into fewer problems with diminishing mental abilities as you grow older. Older adults who remain committed to running also have happier, healthier moods when compared to their more sedentary peers.
7. Encouraging More Outdoor Living
Even without aerobic exercise, spending time out in the natural world is good for your mental health. Running combines the benefits of exercise with the proven mood-boosting effect of getting outdoors. The positive effects of getting outside aren’t necessarily mysterious; simply soaking up the vitamin D produced by natural sunlight is a clinically-proven way to reduce your vulnerability to the symptoms of depression.