Running and Mental Health - Know All the Benefits!

Running and Mental Health - Know All the Benefits!

What runners know, and non-runners might not, is the mental peace that comes after making it home after a great run! Most people understand the physical health benefits of running, but there are a vast number of emotional and mental ones too. Not only are runners' brains more focused; they are less prone to depression and anxiety. If you need one more reason to hit the pavement, check out these fantastic mental health benefits that stem from strapping on your shoes on and hitting the open road.

It Helps to Manage Stress

Running helps people deal with stress more productively.  When you run, it boosts the body's ability to deal with the increased muscle tension that can coincide with stressful situations. And it also aids the body by releasing norepinephrine, which is a chemical that helps the brain moderate its physical response to stress. So when you have a stressful day, try running it away; it is a great vice.

Increases Your Intake of Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms and predispose you to depression and anxiety. The best way to get the vitamin D that you need is by being outdoors and soaking up the sun's rays. When you run outside, your body is exposed to natural sunlight, which allows it to absorb all the vitamin D that it needs to maintain an enhanced mood and overall better health.

Reduces Your Risk of Dementia

Running helps to reduce the cognitive decline that starts to occur post-age 45. Although it can't "cure" Alzheimer's Disease, it might help to slow the progression of it. Working out, in general, between the ages of 25 and 45, helps to increase chemicals in the brain that protect it against the degradation of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is most critical to learning and memory. So running actually helps to make you smarter as you age!

Evens You Out Emotionally

The brain releases chemicals, after you have finished running, that can help to reduce anxiety and provide you with a feeling of calmness. Therefore, if you are feeling a little anxious, the best thing to do is hit the pavement. You won't regret it!

Boosts Your Brain Power

The cells in your body need oxygen to perform their overall tasks. Running helps to create new brain cells that can aid in your overall mental performance. Working out increases brain-derived proteins that help to increase brain activity. These proteins are believed to help with higher learning, thinking skills, and better decision-making capabilities. Running also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter catecholamine, which is highly associated with cognitive function. According to a study published in 2007 by the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, high-intensity, low-impact running, and anaerobic sprints all help to enhance your ability to learn and to retain new vocabulary and information.

Helps you Sleep

Moderate running can enhance in your sleeping patterns. It has been shown that people with insomnia benefit from running. When you exercise five to six hours before going to bed, your body temperature rises. Then, when it is bedtime, your temperature naturally drops, which signals that body that it is time to get some rest. Although running midday might not be possible with a busy schedule, it appears to the best time to enhance the body's own circadian rhythms. That not only improves the number of hours, but also the quality of sleep that you get. It also helps to heighten your daytime alertness, provides you with deeper sleep, and it reduces symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

Increases Productivity

Running, even if it is just short distance, increases your overall motivation. Research shows that when workers take time to exercise regularly, they are more productive than those employees who have a more sedentary lifestyle. So it's a good idea to encourage your employees to take a break and get outdoors and active.

Enhances Creativity

When you get your heart rate up, it increases your levels of creativity for as many as two hours afterward. If you need a little inspiration, try jogging around the block. You might suddenly come up with a whole lot more ideas than if you stare blankly at a page waiting for inspiration to come to you.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Research shows that running improves your self-esteem. According to a study done on adolescent girls who were instructed to run laps, the more laps they ran, and at a faster pace, the higher their self esteem was. Running helps to boost feeling good, and feeling good about yourself!

Decreases Cravings for Unhealthy Foods

If you are a junkaholic, then running might be your biggest health saver. Research shows that high-intensity running helps to reduce cravings of unhealthy fatty foods. And that it also aids people to make better food choices like consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. So when you are a runner, not only are you burning calories, you are probably making better food choices.

Helps With Overcoming Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can alter brain chemistry and make it harder to fight addiction. But running helps to increase the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which not only helps to enhance mood, it also helps people "feel good". The neurotransmitters that are boosted help people recovering from substance abuse have fewer withdrawal symptoms and, therefore, it increases their success for sobriety.

Most people consider running for exercise due to the physical health benefits that it provides. But it is just as important for your overall mental health too. So if you are looking for a little motivation to start your training, think of all the great things it will do for your overall health! For more great runner's resource articles, check out World's Marathons today!