7 Ways Running Helps Combat Depression and Anxiety
By Jessica Natalie
When it comes to mental health, there are probably some days in which you are not feeling your best. No matter how hard you try, perhaps you cannot seem to shake off the blues. It can be especially rough during the long, cold winter months, since there is less sunlight and less incentive to go outside for a walk or a run.
However, it is highly encouraged that you continue to make yourself go out for runs, since there are many benefits to doing so, including physical and mental health. That is why in this article, we will give you a list of good reasons as to how running helps people fight against depression and anxiety, as well as how you can start getting right into it. Soon enough, you will be able to banish those blues away!
Without further ado, let’s get started!
7 Ways Running Can Help Fight Against Depression and Anxiety
While there are a million ways why running is good for you, we have narrowed it down to a few key points that you might want to consider when making yourself go out for that next run. Here are the reasons to get started:
- Running gets you in physical shape. This is a no-brainer, since running after all is a physical activity that works out your body. However, the effects of the changes on your body’s physique directly correlates with how you mentally feel. In other words, by running and get in good shape, it subsequently boosts your confidence and appreciation for taking good care of yourself, despite the drabness of the cold, winter days or otherwise just feeling depressed and anxious all the time.
- Running boosts your endorphins. As hinted at, running causes physical and mental changes in your body, and both aspects are closely connected with each other. For instance, once you finish exercise, you feel tired but also a sense of accomplishment. This is known as the “runner’s high,” which is caused by your body’s release of endorphins, a kind of chemical that contributes to this sensation of elatedness and calmness. In the end, you feel more at peace with yourself, and overall a happier person.
- Running makes you warm. Sometimes, being depressed or anxious can be caused by external factors in the environment around you. For instance, you might be cold, even inside your house, and if too cold, that alone can contribute to a sense of discomfort, moodiness, and overall an unpleasant state of being.
That said, instead of turning on that heater at home, save yourself the electricity bill by going out and getting warm with a solid run. Granted, at first it might be difficult to push through the frosty air, but after a few minutes your body temperature will start to rise, and soon enough, you will feel warmer while all at once getting into excellent shape. After all, it is worth a try!
- Running gives you a purpose. Sometimes, you might feel depressed or anxious just because you have no idea what you are doing with your life. Perhaps you feel lost in your day-to-day existence, whether it is in school, at work, or even just at home. Having an unstable, unpredictable situation can definitely be nerve-wracking, which might cause you to fall into a sad state of being.
To help you out, running can be a good start to setting up a routine to follow. By having something to do on a regular basis, it renews your sense of purpose by anchoring you down and having something to look forward to the next time you get out of bed. It improves your quality of life, as we have stated in our article here.
- Running gets rid of stress. Just as we have mentioned the powerful nature of endorphins on your body, running can alleviate stress levels through the process of burning calories and building muscle at the same time. More so, running can distract you from having to think about stressful triggers in your life (e.g. phone bills, work, family problems, etc.) by paradoxically adding physical stress to your workout. In the end, the stress levels cancel each other out, and only then will you feel a tremendous sense of calmness envelop you from the runner’s high.
- Running makes you more sociable. Especially if you are anxious around people, believe it or not, running can help you out there. Sure, you can run on your own, but not why try joining a running group and having others to run with? Not only will this assist you in improving your running form and speed, but also you get to meet like-minded people who are just as passionate about running as you are.
As a result, you might end up making friends with some of them, which in turn leads to more social situations within and outside of the running group. Having company to talk with can really be a therapeutic thing, and it can coax you out of that shy, anxious shell you have been under for a while.
- Running makes you more concentrated. Similar to the idea of having a purpose, running can help you focus better on tasks at hand, whether in physical activity or day-to-day living. When you feel depressed or anxious, it might be difficult to concentrate on tasks and plans at hand, since you might be too caught up with a range of complicated emotions and thoughts racing in your head. That said, running not only calms, but also reorients the mind to the matter at hand, and as a result helps you stay on-task with whatever you need to do, e.g. cook, read, pick up a talent, etc. By being concentrated, you can reshape your life.
In the end, running might not be the cure-all for depression or anxiety, but it can be highly useful for combatting them. By acknowledging your mental health and making efforts to change it, we guarantee that, by running, you will start to notice differences in your body and happiness.
Bio: Jessica Natalie is a health and fitness lifestyle blogger who is passionate about running and wants to spread the love on her blog Cause I Love Running.