Whether you’re one of the weekend warriors who do 5-mile runs every Saturday and/or Sunday or avid runners who opt to jog home from school or work instead of riding the bus, you surely have experienced the running at any given point in your life. And if you have, you can feel good on the knowledge that every time you hit the road, you are doing your well-being a lot of favor. Running burns out a lot of calories and at the same time promotes stronger joints.
While swimming might be considered as the best form of exercise, it’s not necessarily practical and is not ideal for many types of people. You will need to find a pool, river or some kind of body of water that’s safe and conducive for swimming so you cans start shaving off some calories. Swimming is also quite complex and you typically won’t be able to learn its basics all by yourself.
When it comes to running though, all you need is a road or any kind of flat ground for that matter, and you’re good to go. And if you’re in to trail running, you can also consider the hills and mountains as a viable track. You also don’t need to find someone to teach you how to run as it is essentially, a natural human movement. Ever since we were little kids, we surely didn’t ask mom or dad to teach us how to run. It’s simply part of our DNA!
But are you aware that the health benefits you enjoy from running are not only physical? Based on numerous scientific studies, there are a number of ways in which running can help enhance mental health as well, and they include:
It May Decrease Symptoms of Depression
A lot of research propose that activities like brisk walking or jogging can lower the symptoms exhibited by clinically depressed patients.
What’s even more interesting is that one research which backed this notion also concluded that running is equally as powerful as psychotherapy as a form of therapy for depression.
Regardless if you run alone or with a partner, you can feel a sense of immense pride with what you have achieved through running, and elevate yourself above a depressive state during your finest moments. And there is no need to run for an extensive duration as well. A mere 30 minutes worth of running is already enough to mitigate symptoms of depression, based on studies.
It May Improve Your Learning Abilities
A lot of people have this notion that exercise provides zero additional benefits outside improving one’s physical health but nothing can be further from the truth. Activities such as plyometrics and long runs can in fact improve your capacity to maintain and absorb new information/vocabulary and even retain them.
Optimal results were more apparent following high-intensity running. Elevated levels of Catecholamine and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which are essentially neurotransmitters linked to the brain’s ability to process information) were observed following a certain duration of running.
With that being said, if you’re planning to master a new language or enhance your knowledge on a known field, getting on the track before proceeding to your studies is a great way to begin.
It May Sharpen Your Memory and Protect Your Brain From Aging
There are a number of effective ways to enhance your memory and running happens to be one of them. Compared to the rest of the known memory enhancing techniques though, running is the simplest and most efficient. One study conducted in Brazil focused on five aged rats. They made the rodents run on a treadmill, each for 5 minutes, in a duration of 5 weeks. After the experiment, they noticed that the subjects exhibited an increased production of BDNF.
Bur running doesn’t just sharpen your memory; it can help keep your brain healthy while you age as well. It has already been documented from various scientific researches that physical activity, particularly running, helps slow down brain degeneration which is linked to cognitive decline.
Simply put, keep your brain active FOLLOWING a physical activity. This practice will help you maintain a youthful brain, despite an aging body.
It May Alleviate Anxiety and Helps You Sleep Better
Everywhere in the world, there are those who consider anxiety as a life altering and crippling mental condition. Regardless of the circumstances, the most trivial of things can lead to a dreadful state of anxiety. Although people who suffer from severe anxiety can lean on various pharmaceutical drugs to get by with their lives, running and other forms of physical activities are widely considered as alternative forms of treatment to anxiety disorders. In fact, scientists have found out that exercise as a cure for anxiety is equally as effective as anti-anxiety medicines such as Lorazepam.
Studies also point out that running can aid in the proper regulation of the circadian rhythm and enhance daytime awareness as well. Furthermore, it can even improve the overall quality of a person’s sleep and at the same time mitigate the effects of insomnia.
It May Increase Creativity and Decrease Stress
If you are an artist or writer who is struggling to complete a project or someone who has tried every trick in the book to improve your overall creativity but to no avail, you might want to try running to help you arrive on that “Eureka” moment you’ve desperately been waiting for. This is because running has been proven to dramatically boost focus.
A research conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine has succeeded in proving the link between running and advanced stages of creativity.
Running has also been shown to lower stress, which can affect artistic ability. It is a superb way to de-clutter your mind from various distractions or temporarily detach yourself from them altogether. Getting away from your current world can provide you with the necessary space to come up with revolutionary ideas and potentially obtain a unique point of view.
Regardless if you run because you enjoy it or because you think it’s good for your health, running for no less than 3 times every week for 30 minutes is a great way to start. Following a month or so, you will start noticing developments in numerous areas of your overall mental health.