From taking on a Couch25k program, to attempting your first half marathon, we all know about the benefits of running for our bodies – fat loss, toned limbs, and better cardiovascular health. What we aren’t always so clear on is the other huge benefit that regular runs have to offer us. I’m talking about our mental health. Many runners find that their routine quickly becomes integral to their wellbeing and happiness, and becomes a vital tool in helping to manage challenges in their life and provide a constructive response to negative things such as anger or anxiety. Taking care of your body also becomes taking care of your mind, and you create something positive your life. Definitely one more reason to get moving. Let’s see, can running support your mind?
Deal With Stress
Our lives today are full of challenges, from small stresses about work to huge life challenges such as divorce, job loss, or a health scare, or even being made redundant. Running on a regular basis offers a proactive way to channel and manage stress, giving a physical outlet for the mental tensions that we experience. Of course, if we don’t manage these feelings, they can spiral into things like alcohol addiction or anger problems, so creating a positive outlet is a great idea. People have used running as part of a wider recovery strategy even in the face of traumatic events such as boy scout sexual abuse or recovering from the death of a loved one. It can have far-reaching effects, with that burst of endorphins providing a much-needed relief even in the darkest of times.
Prevent Brain Degeneration Over Time
Running on a regular basis has been shown to boost the brain’s ability to slow the general cognitive decline that occurs after the age of 45. The impact of this is huge, and could even act to protect against illnesses and conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. For some reason, this regular exercise between the ages of 25-45 is especially effective at boosting brain chemicals which prevent the decline of the hippocampus, the important center of the brain that deals with memory and learning.
A Dose Of Vitamin D
Of course, you can choose to run inside on the treadmill, but it’s always better in my opinion to get outside when possible because this means that you also get a big dose of Vitamin D. This occurs naturally when we are exposed to sunlight, and it has tons of positive effects, most notably strengthening our bones. It can also help us to have a healthy immune system and to reset our circadian rhythms, which is especially helpful if you have trouble sleeping. Those who get enough Vitamin D are also at less risk of developing depression!
Keeping Calm and Focused
Being able to respond calmly to the stresses and triggers of life is also a valuable skill, and one which running makes a lot easier. Exercise boosts levels of norepinephrine, which is a chemical in the brain that helps to moderate our response to stress. It also increases levels of certain proteins in our brains which help with decision making, higher thought processes and concentration. So can running support your mind? Yes I believe it absolutely can!