One thing that runners will tell you is that running is a great way to beat stress, but there’s no way to find out till you actually run. Now, though, studies seem to have found a way to link exercise and running to de-stressing.
Writing for Quartz, Wendy A Suzuki, a neuroscientists says the mental benefits of running have “profound implications” on our lives. “Exercise is a powerful way to combat feelings of stress because it causes immediate increases in levels of key neurotransmitters, including serotonin, noradrenalin, dopamine and endorphins, that are often depleted by anxiety and depression. That’s why going for a run or spending 30 minutes on the elliptical can boost our moods immediately- combatting the negative feelings we often associate with chronic stressors we deal with every day,” she writes, citing studies conducted in her lab.
Suzuki goes on to say how running helps you stay focused and alert and these positive effects can help you cope with the stress of work or home. But the most powerful impact exercise has, Suzuki claims, is in the healthy regeneration of brain cells in the hippocampus. “Increased levels of physical exercise can result in improved memory,” she writes.
Runners, of course, have known about the positive mental impact of running through something called a runner’s high, which is the feeling one gets through the rush of endorphins that a short session of running typically produces. Suzuki’s article only reiterates the long-lasting effects of this happy feeling, which often makes getting through any day less stressful. We all run for different reasons, but it’s great to know that the physical benefits of running are matched more than adequately by the development of the mind.
Running is also a great tool in the fight against depression. It cannot take the place of professional help, but it can assist and complement appropriate treatment. The physical benefits from regular exercise improve self-confidence and esteem, which help combat a lot of image-related mental issues.
Main image: Nike