The huge benefits running has on your mental health

Running has huge benefits on your mental health-How running will improve your mental health and boost your mood

Elite point of view

We all know that running has huge positive effects on your physical health, but did you know that while running helps you take care of your body it also is taking care of your mind too!

Runners state that there is no greater feeling than the “runners high”. As you begin to run, your heart starts pumping harder and pushing blood through your body at a faster rate. Your respiratory system starts working harder and you mentally prepare yourself for vigorous exercise. As you continue to push yourself to go harder and faster, your body starts releasing endorphins. These hormones act as a stimulant in the body, resulting in what many call a “natural high.”  Experiencing a “runners high” is said to be one of the best ways to feel happy and relaxed.

Running provides a variety of mental health benefits you might not be aware of such as; stress management, “the sunshine vitamin”, a calmer state of mind, prevention of cognitive decline, better sleep, brainpower boost, increased productivity, greater creativity along with many many more.

Running can reduce stress, depression and anxiety. When you run, endorphins and serotonin are released in your body, these are chemicals that improve your mood.  When you run, blood circulation to the brain is increased and the part of your brain that responds to stress and improves your mood is effected. This causes a change that temporarily improves your reaction to stressful situations.

Running improves your sleep. Running can help set your body to a normal sleep schedule this is because chemicals are released during and after running and these chemicals relax your body and encourage deep sleeping. Studies show that a moderate run can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill. Moving around 5-6 hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature and then when the temperature drops back to normal a few hours later it signals that its time to sleep.

The “sunshine vitamin” benefit refers to taking your run outside on a sunny day because it’ll help your body produce vitamin D which is a nutrient that can lessen your likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Running outside has additional benefits too as it lessens feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If you’re feeling unmotivated a short run can do wonders for you. Findings have shown that workers who take time to exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their colleagues who are less active. Work can be stressful and tiring but even getting out for a quick walk round the block on your lunch break will help engage your brain for the rest of the day.

A study conducted by Kenneth (1983) surveyed ordinary runners about the psychological aspects of running. Many of the respondents had started running to improve their health, and almost all noted mental and emotional benefits including relief of tension, improved self-image, and better mood. About one half describe trance-like states, enhanced visual imagery, and creative episodes. Two thirds have experienced the familiar “runner’s high” in slightly less than half of their runs.

One of popular areas of the gym here at Elite Fitness is our cardio section which includes treadmills, bikes, cross-trainers, recumbent bikes, a Stairmaster  and a push-mill. Our treadmills have a variety of different programmes to choose from to make your workout a bit more interesting. Our most popular programme is called Sprint 8, this is a level based 20-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout program that automatically adjusts the exercise intensity to maximise results. This program consists of a warm-up walk, 8 sprints with rest periods between each one and then a cool down walk at the end. There is a range of difficulty levels to chose from ranging from beginner, intermediate, advanced and elite, however you can also create your own custom sprint 8 program. There is also different programmes depending on what your goals are such as; fat burn, rolling hills and interval incline. However, feel free to just jump on the treadmill and press quick start and get those legs moving.

If you’d like to sign up for an organised event we have places available for the Tough Mudder at Badminton, sign up here and join our team for a fun day out.

Another recreational running option is to sign up for the Thornbury Park Run, you can do this here.

The inspiration for this article came from a recent literature review which evaluates the findings from a variety of previous research. Below is a summary of the findings from the review.

The positive effects of running on mental health

The aim of this study was a miniature review of other studies that researched how running effects our mental health and it what way it can improve our mood, boost our self esteem and improve our quality of life. It can be concluded running is a efficient tool in the prevention of different psychological conditions and it can be a therapeutic tool for different negative psychological conditions, such as depression, anxiety, tension, mood changes, low self esteem etc.

If you would like to read the full article click the link below:

Markotić, Vedran, et al.

The positive effects of running on mental health.

Psychiatria Danubina 32.suppl. 2 (2020): 233-235.

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