11 Scientifically Proven Ways Running Can Nourish Your Mental Health
What’s the best time to deal with a mental health problem?
The answer is before it starts.
Most of us care for our physical health but keep ignoring the mental health, even when we are suffering from problems like stress or anxiety until it’s too late.
Mental illness can work like an anchor that holds you back from many things. This is why it is important to nurture and take care of your mental health.
The one, simple solution for many psychological problems:
Want to know one of the easiest ways to keep mental illness at bay?
Spend 20 – 25 minutes a day on running and it will make a world of difference to your mental well-being.
Let me give you 11 scientifically proven examples of how running can change you for better.
- It improves your mood:
Temporary sadness or sucky feelings are not bad. However, getting stuck with negative thoughts can lead to more serious problems like depression. You need to do something to elevate your mood.
Music, movies, or hanging out with friends are all good. But probably the healthiest way to boost your mood is to add 20 – 25 minutes of running to your daily routine. When it comes to mood enhancement, running can be as effective as recreational drugs. This is because it produces endocannabinoids, a chemical compound that makes you feel better and happier.
- It helps you relax:
A study by Johns Hopkins found that people who face a lot of stress in the early age can suffer from serious mental illness in their adulthood. Stress is a normal part of life but you need to keep it under control.
Running can help with that. It boosts norepinephrine that improves your brain’s response to stress. It can also improve the function of frontal cortex by reducing the activity in this part of the brain. So, when you have a lot going in your mind, simply go out to run and you will instantly feel better and more relaxed.
- It reduces panic attacks:
Tense or fearful situations are an inescapable part of life. It’s how you respond to these situations or thoughts that make the difference. If you are suffering from excessive panic or fear on a regular basis, try running.
Experiments have shown that physically active people respond better to problems or tense situations. You will see your panic attacks reduced in next to no time.
- It builds confidence & self-esteem:
Lack of confidence is not a mental illness but it can transform into problems like anxiety and depression.
Running can improve your confidence and self-esteem in many ways. First of all, it will help you lose weight and improve your physical appearance. If you are a student, you will benefit from increased levels of cortisol and BDNF, which is good for memorization.
It allows you to think out of the box and solve problems by allowing your brain to have higher-level thoughts. You will also be able to make better decisions, as shown in a study by American Council on exercise.
You will surely feel a lot more confident if you are looking and performing better than before.
- It boosts productivity & creativity:
Work-related stuff is the biggest reason of stress, according to a survey by ComPsych. All those missed deadlines and unfulfilled goals keep adding to your stress and frustration level.
Want to know the easiest and the healthiest way to boost productivity?
Start your day with a morning run. Employees reported better mood and productivity after exercise in a study published by Emerald Group Publishing.
- It helps you sleep better:
Lack of sleep can mess up your mind in more ways than you can imagine. The mind needs rest just like any other part of the body. Sleep deprivation means a restless mind, which is more vulnerable to psychological disorders.
Running is the simplest way to improve the time and quality of your sleep. It helps you doze off easily and also improves the quality of your sleeping time.
- It will break the bad habits:
Addictions like drugs or heavy drinking are bad but it can be incredibly hard to fight and overcome these habits.
Running can help by controlling the craving and encouraging you to eat something healthy. And it’s not just diet. Running will actually improve your self-control and you will make better choices in life.
- It keeps your energy level high:
Low energy often leads to mental fatigue. You can hardly think positive when you are physically or mentally drained.
You might think that running will exhaust the already depleted reserves of energy but it’s actually the opposite. Scientists observed young adults who complained of persistent tiredness as they performed low to moderate intensity exercise. After just 6 weeks, participants reported a considerably high level of energy.
- It stimulates the growth of new brain cells:
Running can actually strengthen your brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and grey matter.
Grey matter is one of the most important components of your nervous system. It controls the all-important functions like seeing, hearing, speech, memory, emotions, and self-control. This is why regular runners are less prone to age-related brain diseases like dementia.
- It lets you connect with nature:
Research from the University of British Columbia suggests that simply going out and admiring the nature can increase your happiness and sense of wellbeing. A simple increase in sun time is linked to a decrease in mental distress. This is why going outside for running or jogging beats working out in the gym or at home.
- It keeps your healthy:
It’s hard to be happy and content when you are not physically fit. Many times it is the poor physical health that adds to your mental distress. It is mightily important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with proper diet and exercise routine.
Running is one of the best forms of exercises for cardiovascular health. It also helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level. Above all, it will keep obesity at a distance, which is the mother of many diseases.
These are just some benefits. Truth is, running provides a myriad of benefits for both, physical and mental health. The good thing is that it’s free and you can do it at any time and place. Don’t wait for mental problems to ruin your life.
Remember, a good pair of running shoes is all you need.