We are constantly being told to exercise more for our weight, general fitness and cardiovascular health – but what are the other benefits apart from physical ones? Running is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to clear your mind, change direction in life and achieve clarity of thought. So, for those of us who hit the pavement to shake off stress or lift their moods, science is on your side.
Dr Nicola Burton, senior research fellow in the University of Queensland’s school of human movement studies, says when it comes to exercise “we’re not only talking about preventing poor mental health or treating it, but promoting good mental health. Even if you don’t have depression or anxiety or a serious mental illness that you want help managing, you can enhance your wellbeing and vitality.”
Aside from just improving your mental well being, running can have dramatic affects on your overall attitude to life.
Running can make you happy
While it can be hard to pull yourself out of bed at sunrise, or lace up your shoes after a long day at work, running – like any other form of exercise, is a proven mood booster, guaranteed to get your serotonin and endorphins flowing. Studies have shown that after just five minutes of exercise, the mood-enhancement effect starts to kick in.
It allows you to set goals
Either personally, or in a group, running allows you to go at your own pace and as such, allows you to set the goals and when you expect to achieve them. With each run comes an extension of your endurance, a perk in attitude and a rewarding experience, especially when you start beating your personal best.
Mental health can be improved
Not only does exercise make you happier, but it can be helpful to those suffering from anxiety or depression. Releasing endorphins and serotonin when exercising is proving to improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms. Studies have shown that just by getting outside, we are already helping our minds relax and recharge – not to mention the added benefits of getting a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Beauty in the calm
What better way to get some ‘me time’ than with a good run. Headphones in, mind switched off with nothing to focus on but the road in front of you – sounds like a pretty good time to us.
If you feel yourself coming home every day from work with shoulders hunched in tight knots, running could help alleviate those everyday stresses. There’s nothing like taking out your frustrations on the pavement, instead of a friend or family member.
It keeps your brain sharp
Running has been proven to decrease the levels of cognitive decline with age. The mental benefits of running can also extend to your work life, improving working memory and task handling.
Long-term health benefits
Exercise can do wonders for your muscles, joints and levels of endurance. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease, cardiovascular issues and other diseases.