Many fitness enthusiasts claim that running benefits the mind and body.
Running, as well as other physical activities, help release various chemicals that impact how you think, how you respond, how you perceive, and what you feel.
Meanwhile, this article discusses the benefits of running and the types of running workouts you can do, so read on.
Mental Health Benefits of Running
Your body typically goes through a transitional phase when you start your run. Your breathing becomes heavy, and your heart pumps more blood to your muscles and brain, causing your pulse to become faster. If you want to know more about your brain and its components, click here.
As you pick up your pace, your body starts releasing endorphins. Among running enthusiasts, this hormone produces what they call a “runner’s high.” In this state, the runner feels less or no muscle pain due to the temporary euphoric feeling following intense exercise.
Although endorphins do not directly contribute to mood improvement, researchers suggest that endocannabinoids may cause this euphoric post-run feeling.
Endocannabinoids are biochemical substances within your body that can move through the cell barrier that separates the brain from the bloodstream.
These neuromodulators help promote short-term psychoactive effects such as calmness and reduced anxiety.
Aside from these temporary effects, running and exercise can provide the following benefits for your mind and overall mental health:
Running is a form of exercise. The Mayo Clinic states that almost any form of exercise can help reduce the adverse effects of stress. Aside from stress relief, other benefits of exercise include positive effects on the digestive, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
With less stress, you are likely to sleep better, have more control over your weight, have less muscle tension, get along well with friends and family, and be in a good mood.
Boosts Mood and Productivity
Aerobic exercises such as jogging and running can help elevate your mood levels. The improved mood is also associated with increased self-confidence, relaxation, and lower symptoms of anxiety.
The Department of Health and Human Services suggests getting at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week for healthy adults. Vigorous activities include running and biking.
Improves Memory and Sleep
Stress can cause you to experience headaches, difficulties falling asleep, or sleeping too much.
The hippocampus is a part of your brain typically associated with learning and memory. According to researchers, the hippocampus increases in volume when you exercise regularly. The benefits of this effect include improved focus and working memory.
Helps Combat Depression
Medication and therapy are often referred to as two of the fundamental pillars of depression treatment. However, some individuals argue that physical activity can be considered the third pillar.
If you are experiencing depression, your psychiatrist or doctor can prescribe doing physical activities, one of which is running.
One study suggested that exercise could help improve depressive symptoms. Such an effect may be comparable to pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy used in treating depression.
The researchers also mentioned that other related studies used running or jogging as their treatment modality.
Meanwhile, a clinical trial from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that aerobic exercises with an energy expenditure of 17.5 kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per week (kcal/kg/week) could reduce major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms by 47%.
Types of Running Workouts
You may sometimes feel that repeating the same running routine is too mundane.
You don’t need to worry. Here are interesting ways to perform running exercises for a more diverse routine.
Base running involves running short to moderate distances at your natural pace. This method may not be as challenging as other running routines. However, you can perform base frequently running to establish your baseline.
Running enthusiasts claim that base running helps condition your muscles to improve oxygen transportation, reduce lactate production, and optimize energy utilization.
Lactate, or lactic acid, carries oxygen from your lungs to other body parts. Having low lactate levels in the blood is normal. However, an increase in lactate can decrease oxygen levels in the body, leading to complications like severe infection, shock, or heart failure.
When doing base running, one workout recommendation is to run five miles at a natural, conversational pace.
Once you have established your base running phase, you can move to long-running. Running experts assert that this running method helps improve endurance and gives you confidence that you can push yourself farther than usual.
Similar to base running, long runs should proceed at a natural pace. Runners suggest running for 15 miles or one hour and 30 minutes, depending on your preferences.
Interval running involves breaking up your routine into bursts of intense effort and recovery periods of slower jogging, running, or walking. Experts claim that the purpose of interval running is to improve running economy, boost fatigue resistance, and increase speed.
This article aims to equip you with helpful ideas on the benefits of running. However, consulting a psychiatrist or fitness expert can help you get more detailed information on how running and other exercises can benefit your mental health.
- The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running
- Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress
- Manage Stress
- Running for a Healthy Mind: Defeating Depression with Freeform Jogging
- Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression?
- Exercise Treatment for Depression: Efficacy and Dose Response
- Lactic Acid Test