Incredible Mental Health Benefits Of Running
Whether you go out once a week for a 5-mile run or have ‘ran the mile’ back in school, we’ve all had experience with the activity. There are amazing physical health benefits to running. You can burn off a ton of calories if you run and your joint health improves as well.
Did you know that the benefits of running are not just physical? According to science, here are a few ways that running improves mental health as well:
1. Decrease Symptoms of Depression
Numerous studies suggest that activities such as brisk walking or jogging can reduce symptoms in clinically depressed patients.
Interestingly enough, one of the studies that supported this, also concluded that running is just as effective as psychotherapy when used as treatment.
Whether you are running solo or with a work out partner, one can take great pride in what is accomplished through running, and boost themselves past a depressive state when at their best. You don’t even have to run for a long time. Just 30 minutes has been proven to help with depression symptoms.
2. Improve Your Learning Abilities
Many people assume that exercise is just that and there are no benefits other than physical. Activities like anaerobic sprints and low-impact aerobic running can actually increase your ability to retain and learn new vocabulary/information and retain it.
Results seemed most prominent after high-intensity running. Catecholamine and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotransmitters associated with cognitive learning function, are found in high concentrations after running.
If you are looking to learn a new language or improve on an already familiar subject, taking a nice run before sitting down to study is a good way to start.
3. Sharpen Your Memory and Protect Your Brain From Aging
Running is a great way to keep your memory on point. There are a few activities you can do to help, but nothing as simple as running. A study in Brazil observed 5 elderly rats use a treadmill, 5 minutes at a time, over the course of five weeks, and saw a surge in the production of BDNF.
Thanks to the improved levels of BDNF, the elderly rats showed memory test scores that measure up to those of younger rats.
It isn’t just good for sharpening your memory either but can help maintain your brain health as you age. Scientists have already observed that physical exercise, especially running, aids in having a lower rate of brain shrinkage associated with cognitive decline.
In other words, play your brain games AFTER some exercise. It’ll help keep your mind young, no matter how old your body feels.
4. Alleviates Anxiety and Helps You Sleep Better
Anxiety is a big issue for some people. No matter the situation, the smallest things can trigger terrible anxiety. While many people are prescribed medication to treat the condition, running and other exercises can help dissipate that nervous energy. Studies have even shown treating anxiety with exercise is just as good as anti-anxiety meds like Lorazepam.
Running has also been shown to help regulate your circadian rhythm and increase your daytime alertness. You can also improve things such as how fast you fall asleep, how deep sleep is, and even reduce symptoms of insomnia as well.
5. Increase Creativity and Decrease Stress
Are you an artist or writer struggling to finish up that last part of your project? Has every mental exercise to promote creativity done nothing to help? You can always give running a shot before sitting down to create your next piece. Running will increase your focus significantly.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine was able to show the correlation between running and higher levels of creativity.
At the same time, you can also reduce your stress, another factor that may be affecting the art you can produce. Jogging is a great time to clear your head and focus on life issues or to take some time off from them. The time away can give you the space needed to brainstorm solutions and possibly gain a different perspective.
Whether you jog for fun or for health, taking the time to do so at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes is a good start. After about a month, you will see substantial improvement in many aspects of your mental health.