5 Ways Running Benefits your Mental Health

January 21st 2019 | Callie Sierra

January marks the start of a new year and new beginnings. Many people resolve to exercise more in the new year. We think that’s a great goal!

This month also marks Run Every Day or RED January, an initiative to raise awareness and funds for the mental health charity, Mind.

Mind promotes the positive impact that exercise can have on happiness and well-being. The charity sets a simple and achievable goal: do something active every day throughout January.

Running is a great option for getting active, and it comes with some pretty special benefits. In this post, we highlight five ways that running can benefit your mental health. We hope it inspires you to get out and get active this month and all year long!

1. Running is a mood booster.

You don’t have to be a serious athlete or marathon runner to reap the benefits of a run. Exercise in general is thought to help the body release serotonin, which contributes to mood-boosting results.

Even a 30-minute jog has been shown to lift the symptoms of depression and improve your mood. A study from the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that half an hour on a treadmill is a sufficient amount of time to lift your mood. You don’t have to over-exert yourself, either. According to the study, the positive benefits come whether you run or walk.

Anecdotally, NHS UK shares the story of Liz, a woman who suffered from depression. "For the past 4 years, running has been a big part of my life. I'm a different person when I exercise regularly.” Liz also offers up a great piece of advice. "I've tried to build exercise into my routine. That way I don't have to think about doing it. It's part of a normal day.”

2. Run for better sleep.

Did you know that running can improve resting? Running has been shown to promote better sleep habits. A study from the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests that young people who added running to their routines slept better, had improved psychological functioning and focused better.

A good night of sleep can improve your mood, boost your ability to focus, and improve overall mental health. Don’t just dream about running, get out there and do it!

3. Running is a natural stress-reducer.

Running helps release stress, which should be no surprise. But did you know that running and exercise also changes the brain in ways that make it more resistant to stress? Sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high”, running has been mentioned by people (including celebrities like Ellie Goulding and Lena Dunham) as a way to deal with anxiety, stress and panic attacks.

4. Forever young.

Seeking a more youthful glow and energy? Ditch the products and procedures and hit the pavement! A Runner’s World article suggests that running can combat many common age-related issues, making it “as close to a miracle drug as we’ve got.” Not only can it add years to our life, according to the story, but it “can add more life in our years”.

 Running may also help keep your mind healthy as you age. A Business Insider article reports that running can improve your mind and fight age-related cognitive decline.

 5. Running builds confidence.

Seeking more confidence or tenacity in 2019? Running could be your answer. Running helps build confidence in that it enables you to overcome personal challenges. It can help you push yourself and show you – and others – how strong and capable you are.

You also don’t have to overdo it to reap the benefits. Not everyone is up to a marathon, and that’s OK!  If you go too far too fast, you might overdo it and end up not wanting to get back out there at all. Instead, try motivational apps or create a realistic running schedule that builds up over time, which will build your confidence and help you meet realistic goals.

Beyond the mental health benefits, running is a great opportunity to connect with others through running clubs or shared outings. Encourage yourself to keep it up with special rewards along the way, like a special meal with friends following a run. Another way to stay inspired is to create customised motivational clothing and gear. Think about why you run and add your goal, your message or your hero to a special item, like a retro-cool sweatband, a fleece jacket or a water bottle.

Amnesty International Wristbands

Winter weather got you down? Not sleeping well? We suggest you strap on your trainers and get out there, no matter how fast or how far you go.

How else does running or physical activity boost you? We’d love to hear more about it and swap some stories. Please get in touch with us today, and we’ll see you out there on the roads and trails!