“Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.” — Oprah Winfrey. These are not mere words; in fact, if read carefully, this quote hints the best at the various mental health benefits of running every day.
The physical health benefits of running have been discussed so many times that it has been sold like hotcakes a long time back. Today, people are conscious, cognizant, and curious to uplift the status of their mental health.
Moreover, the informed folks are now accepting the earlier “shamed and stereotyped” mental aspect as very much a part of the body. Since all the popular benefits of running are already established many times, let’s know what its effects are on the mind and soul.
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Why Should You Run Daily?
Besides the endless health benefits of running, like burning plenty of kilojoules, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, strengthening the muscles, and improvement in cardiovascular fitness, you will be surprised to see what all it can gift you. Yes, you read it right, gift you!
Help you Break the Spiral of Stress
In this fast-paced world where there are external pressures and internal turmoils, it is very easy to stress out. And at times, when this level of stress boils down to a burnout phase, you are in for something very serious.
Yes, there are a lot of ways to avoid falling into the stress spiral, either by seeking psychiatric help or by choosing the best option of going running daily. If you don’t know much about it, a good run will help you keep your mental tensions under the radar.
Also, shortly after running, you will experience the endorphins rush and endocannabinoids, which is a naturally produced chemical in the body that will leave you feeling high and relaxed.
As your brain and mind get used to these short-term feelings of stress management, by running daily, your body will get used to the same adrenaline high.
Improve your Mood
Do you also feel the irritability overshadowing your overall mood? If you really want to escape this feeling for real, do it with a good run of 30 mins or more. In fact, it is no rocket science, as the serotonin release will cast a general sense of contentment and push back the worst mood you are going through.
If you are not aware, there is something known as a “runner’s high,” which is nothing but the runners who experience a daily emotional boost. The plus point is that it doesn’t take long, and you can achieve it in a short period of time.
Furthermore, if you don’t stop here and make it a regular part of your routine, the long-term benefits of running are immense. (Up to 20 weeks or more) Usually, the rush of blood increases after running, and your brain is able to deal with stressful situations better.
And not to forget that your brain will temporarily calm your frazzled nerves and down moods. So, boost your mood the right way instead of controlling them through pills.
How can your body and mind function well without a proper and deep night’s sleep? No way it can! A night of good sleep is important for mental well-being as much as it is a necessary bodily process.
When you don’t sleep straight for a few days, you will disrupt the normal functioning of your mind and body. The chemicals released while sleeping helps the body to recover, rest, and calm down, which helps to refresh and rejuvenate.
However, when there is a lack of sleep, in no time, the body will go through extreme stress, anxiety, and depression too. So, run moderately, which is equivalent to taking sleeping pills, and feel the need to sleep after your body’s temperature falls after a run.
In a recent study, it is proved that running can induce the production of a certain protein, cathepsin-B, that is responsible for the generation of new brain cells. Exercise of this sort will boost your memory and thinking skills as it stimulates the growth of new blood vessels.
According to Paul Loprinzi, Ph.D., director of the University of Mississippi’s Exercise and Memory Laboratory, found that aerobic exercises like running help neurons to connect and communicate well with each other. Which is indirectly boosting short and long-term memory.
Also, according to a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers found that the runners had more frontal-parietal network connections and areas related to working memory as compared to non-runners. So, the choice is all yours!
Accentuates Cognitive Flexibility
In the Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2016, “Cognitive Flexibility is a critical executive function that can be broadly defined as the ability to adapt behaviors in response to changes in the environment.”
Obviously, it is very important at both micro and macro levels as it helps you to be quick and efficient in your daily life. One of the very unique benefits of running also includes improvement in the ability to swiftly shift mental assignments.
What happens if you are cognitively flexible? Whenever you are in the grip of problems, you have the capabilities to adapt well to change and hold the fort down. So, imagine how much it is going to make your lives better by saving you from sudden pressures or on-the-spot decision-making. (So, do nothing but run.)
Helps in Recovery
Recovery for what? Well, if you are dealing with clinical depression or anxiety, running will be like shining armor. So many studies and researches show that a person who runs regularly will give the same effects that popping pills give.
If you go to a psychiatrist, he/she will ask you to club exercise with medication, as the recovery process is boosted, and the running benefits are shown within six months. So, a certain level of activity in any form is very important.
You may be suffering from any mental disorder, but including a daily run or jog is essential. It may not directly eliminate the problem from the source, but it helps you deal with it without giving in too much.
Running every day will make you not only creative and productive but also boost your self-esteem. If we define self-esteem, it means “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.”
Moreover, you also feel strong inside out. When you clear all the obstacles step by step, you gain confidence that you can accomplish anything in life. Through running, your self-esteem and confidence generally alleviate in life too.
Like, you bring change in your poor lifestyle to reap the benefits of running. For example, cut down on sodas, junk food, etc. All of these require self-control, which keeps us in discipline and order.
Also, if you are not aware that regularly sweating up and being in shape insinuates a positive perception of the self, which is the highlight of a higher level of self-esteem.
Tips on Running
Yes, the physical and psychological benefits of running are endless, but it is necessary to run smartly and keep important tips in mind. Read them to know them all.
- Start every day running slowly. It’s important to warm the body up and get used to running at a long stretch. Only after running slowly for about 5 to 10 minutes, increase your speed. Don’t worry if the first few days you are not able to pace yourselves as it takes time for the body to open.
- Always keep a close check on your breathing while you run. If you are huffing and unable to catch your breath, you are simply running too fast. And if it is the other way around, you can push yourself a little. Only a controlled pace will let you run for longer durations without interruptions.
- Taking intervals in between runs is OKAY. Don’t consider this cheating, as it is going to keep you on the go for a much longer time. Don’t continue pushing even when you are unable to catch your breath. Take frequent pauses and then run after a get-set-go.
- Recovering is very important. Make a point that the initial days can be tough and hard on your body. After all, pain is gained, but after running, relax and cool down to give the much-needed breather to your body.
- If you lack motivation or simply get bored during running, get an exercise buddy who is going to stick with you. To make your daily runs more enjoyable and productive, give each other challenges, push each other, and don’t let laziness get the zeal out of you.
- If you are still not getting comfortable with the daily running and feeling the toughness in making efforts, give it some time before deciding to give up running. Relax and loosen up to start again.
- At times, it is very natural for you not to feel like going for a good run for a day or two. Don’t feel bad, and listen to your body. If a few missed runs are making you feel bad, replace the regret with planning for the long-term goals for running.
- Needless to say, you will be able to run smoothly and longer if your shoes are appropriate and in perfect condition. Also, your attire should be suitable for exercising. So, running or jogging outfits should be taken care of. For example, activewear, sports bra, or properly ventilated comfortable outfits.
After reading this, you are well aware of all the psychological benefits of running. So, if you want to reap the advantages of a daily run and lead a healthy lifestyle, go through the tips also.
The important perquisites will not only make your runs easy and effortless but also take you very close to your goal of either getting fit or leading a stress-free life.