How Running Can Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety
Regular running can help reduce your stress and clear your mind
The real world is full of stressors. Whether at home or at work or just life, there are various ways your stress levels can increase. This can lead to poor eating, lack of sleep, and weaken your immune system. Running is an activity that is known to reduce stress levels and anxiety. Regular running provides you with a schedule to follow and a way to exert energy. When setting your routine, following the ABCs of goal setting can help you stay on track. Here’s how running can reduce your stress, improve your immune system, and jumpstart multiple health benefits for your life.
The joys of runner’s high
Even if you aren’t a regular runner, you’ve probably already heard about runner’s high. It’s a euphoric feeling runners report experiencing during a run. One school of thought believes that this is caused by the release of a feel-good hormone called endorphins’ into your system. At the same time, hormones related to stress, like cortisol, are decreased. This combination makes runners feel amazing and provides a mental boost during and after the run.
Another school of thought points to something else – endocannabinoids. Recent research shows that running releases a biochemical substance called endocannabinoids into the body. According to Dr. David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, endocannabinoids can move more easily through the bloodstream and reach the brain. Here, endocannabinoids act as a mood-improving neuromodulator that can reduce your stress and anxiety.
Take a break
Social media has been linked to increased anxiety and FOMO – or the fear of missing out. Stepping away from Instagram or Facebook and running, even for an hour a day, gives you a break from the social world. You can be one with your thoughts, listen to music or a podcast, or chat with your running partner.
Other parts of your daily life, such as a bad day at work, being stuck in traffic, and various daily hassles can also increase the likelihood of you experiencing stress. According to research, running helps control chronic stress. Even the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has linked regular exercise, such as running, to reduced anxiety and stress.
Build up your immune system
Good health and strong immunity have a powerful effect on mental health. Running regularly can help improve cardiovascular function, improve blood circulation, control blood pressure, maintain healthy body weight, and much more. Regular running can also increase the production of blood vessels that support the brain. This is done through a process known as neurogenesis. When new brain cells are produced, this has the added benefit of improving your brain’s performance and mitigating cognitive decline. Pro tip: keep everything on track with these tips for balancing life and training.
Sleep better at night
A bad night’s sleep can have adverse long-term consequences for your overall health. It’s also a causative factor behind the development of chronic stress and anxiety. An article by Psychology Today revealed that regular running can control your body’s circadian rhythm, help you fall asleep faster, and sleep better.
Improved concentration and memory
If you want to get better at learning, retaining new information, and performing better daily – turn to running. Studies show that high-intensity anaerobic running as well as low-intensity aerobic running improves overall brain performance and makes you a better learner. Your hippocampus, or the part of your brain linked to memory and learning, gets a huge boost from regular running.
Build community and friendships
Many people are aware of the health benefits of running. Today, there are various communities and apps dedicated to helping runners connect with each other. There are many benefits to connecting in-person or socially, like accountability and support. Pro tip: follow this advice and convince your friend to train with you.
You can also interact with other runners on your route – a smile or a wave has mood-boosting effects on the body. Running events, running groups, and other community events are also common among the runner’s circle. Amp up your social life by running and enjoy the benefits that social interactions have when it comes to reduced stress levels.
Running is a great reward for your body and mind. You can set your own goals, develop your self-confidence, meet new friends, and build a healthier lifestyle. With regular running, you’ll begin to see a difference in your life when you reduce your stress and anxiety.