The importance of exercise for the body cannot be stressed enough. To stay fit and keep diseases at bay, it is the kind of care you must give your body. Studies conducted on both healthy people and patients with emotional disorders have shown positive effects of physical exercise, regardless of their gender and age. And it is no coincidence that the benefits were seen to be marked in those with elevated levels of anxiety and depression.
As an exercise routine, running is one of the most convenient ones as well because all it demands is a pair of good running shoes – you do not need any equipment or a gym membership. And being a high-intensity aerobic exercise, it leads to faster weight loss and greater stamina. Here’s how it also helps improve your mood.
1. Improves Your Body’s Response To Stress
Any kind of exercise, including running, increases body temperature and blood circulation in the brain and improves your body’s reactivity to stress, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. When you run regularly, your body becomes adept at handling stress.
2. Counters The Stress Hormones With The Happiness Hormones
Tough day at work? Go running to ease the stress. Any aerobic exercise, like running, brings about chemical changes in the body. It balances the negative effects of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol with the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural mood enhancers and painkillers.
An increase in the level of endorphins in your body is responsible for what is known as the runner’s high, the feeling of relaxation and optimism that you get after running for a long distance and even after a hard workout.1
The endorphins work like antidepressants but without any side effects. They relieve tension, relax both the mind and the body, and boost mental energy.2
3. Reduces Perception Of Pain
Aerobic exercise is also found to reduce the perception of pain. What that means is that even though the pain-causing factors remain the same, you will not feel as much pain. However, the efficacy of aerobic exercise in alleviating chronic pain needs to be studied further. Regular training can keep depression at bay to a certain extent. It is also used clinically to treat certain psychiatric and chronic pain conditions.3
4. Reduces Contradiction In Thought And Action
Running is not just about feeling good. It can even alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whether you are battling depression or anxiety or just want to destress after a hard day’s work, run, whether by yourself or with a group of friends!
Running regularly can even improve your self-efficacy, that is your faith in your own capability. It can help you fight distraction and stay focused. This is vital for people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other behavioral disorders.
Running can even reduce contradictions in thought, belief, and action, which is common in patients with cognitive dissonance – this is a state of mental tension one may experience when they hold contradictory views and beliefs.4 All of these naturally lift your mood and boost your morale.
5. Improves Focus And Helps Fight ADHD In Children
Running also helps keep attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents in check. It boosts the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These, in turn, improve concentration, focus, and memory. Physical exercise has also been seen to improve attention and give better resistance to temptations and impulses, consequently improving concentration levels of ADHD patients.5
6. Boosts Self-Esteem
When you run, it is just you, the track, or the treadmill, or the road as the case may be, and the rhythm of your feet. When you push yourself to complete that last round, it is you against yourself. You are testing your own endurance, will power, and motivation and emerging a winner.
Regular runners and long-distance runners, who are passionate about their chosen sport, participate in marathons or half marathons, and even ultra runs that take on longer distances. To push your limits, both physical and mental, to set goals and attain them – these are the aspects of long-distance running that strengthen you as an individual and boost confidence as well. And these can be of help if you are battling your blues.
7. Keeps Your Mind Young And Sharp
Apart from improving your mood considerably, running has also been found to keep your mental faculties in top shape. A regular routine of running can help keep the mental decline caused by degenerative diseases at bay. It keeps your grey cells intact for longer. Studies that recorded the relationship between mood and exercise in the elderly showed significant improvements in the mood after exercise.6
Run For 30 Mins Daily
Studies suggest that healthy adults should do a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise every day in order to experience the fitness and health benefits. It’s not necessary to do the 30 minutes in one go. You can stagger it through the day. The benefits remain the same.7 So tie your shoelaces and run!
|↑1||Exercising to relax. Harvard Health Publication. 2011.|
|↑2||Martinsen, Egil W. “Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression.” Nordic journal of psychiatry 62, no. sup47 (2008): 25-29.|
|↑3||Hoffman, Martin D., and Debi Rufi Hoffman. “Does aerobic exercise improve pain perception and mood? A review of the evidence related to healthy and chronic pain subjects.” Current pain and headache reports 11, no. 2 (2007): 93-97.|
|↑4||Guszkowska, M. “Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood.” Psychiatria polska 38, no. 4 (2003): 611-620.|
|↑5||Silva, Alessandro P., Sueli OS Prado, Terigi A. Scardovelli, Silvia RMS Boschi, Luiz C. Campos, and Annie F. Frère. “Measurement of the Effect of Physical Exercise on the Concentration of Individuals with ADHD.” PloS one 10, no. 3 (2015): e0122119.|
|↑6||Arent, S., M. Landers, and J. Etnier. “The effects of exercise on mood in older adults: a meta-analytic.” J. Ageing Phys. Act 8 (2000): 407-430.|
|↑7||Hansen, Cheryl J., Larry C. Stevens, and J. Richard Coast. “Exercise duration and mood state: how much is enough to feel better?.” Health Psychology 20, no. 4 (2001): 267.|