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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.

  1. The joys of runner’s high

Sarah Jackson, 2020 Austin Marathon female champ, crossing the finish line with her arms raised joyously in the air. Running is a great way to reduce your stress.

Sarah Jackson, 2020 Austin Marathon female champ, experiencing runner’s high as she crosses the finish.

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.

  1. 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.

Running can offset the stress from a bad day at work.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Sleep better at night

Regular running can help you 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Build community and friendships

Running can lead to improved memory and concentration.

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.

Safety Tips to Follow During Your Next Run

7 safety tips that’ll keep runners safe

Running outside has tons of benefits no matter what type of run you’re completing! You can hit up the trails, take in the sights of a new city, breathe fresh air, say hey to folks you know, and so much more! But with those benefits comes some potential harm. There are many ways to ensure you finish your run just as healthy and safe as when you began. Whether you’re running one mile at your local track or 20 miles on your favorite trail, these 7 safety tips will help keep your training on track.

Run with a friend

Running with a friend is fun! It’s also one of the best ways to stay safe on a run. You’re more likely to be visible to vehicles and less likely to be the victim of a crime. Think strength in numbers. Should something happen to one of you, the other will be quicker to get help and assist until help arrives. Plus, everyone knows it’s better to train with friends because they will hold you accountable. If you need help convincing your friend to train with you, this advice should do the trick!

Listen to your surroundings

Whether you’re running the roads or the trails, you should always pay attention to your surroundings! Music can help us power through our run, but it can also prevent us from hearing what’s going on around us. If you run with earbuds, keep one out. If you run with both, keep the volume at a low level. You can also ditch the earbuds and play your music out loud. 

Run against traffic

Take your phone with you during your run in case you need it.

It’s important for you to see drivers and for drivers to see you. Running against traffic allows you to see what’s coming your way. Avoid running against traffic on blind corners as drivers won’t have enough time to react if they don’t see you until the last second. Plan your route ahead of time to ensure you’ll always run against traffic, especially when you increase your mileage.

Look both ways when crossing the street

This tip goes all the way back to childhood. When running, you should pay attention to everything. Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Chances are they might not see you. Also, just because you pushed the button to cross the street doesn’t mean it’s immediately safe to cross the street. Pay attention to all signals, when it’s your turn, still look both ways! Even though you think you know the light sequence, it could’ve changed. Don’t assume anything Pro tip: if you’re stuck at a light, spend that time completing one of these 4 stretches.

Wear reflective clothing

Reflective clothing will help with visibility, which is imperative when running outside. You want to be seen by vehicles so they can plan accordingly. Light-weight lights can also be placed on your arms, shoes, ankles, or hat. Reflective clothing and lights will also help you be seen by cyclists and other runners. Reflective clothing is especially helpful in the dark. These BSEEN LED bands will help you be more visible in the dark. They’re lightweight, have an extended battery life, and can fit on your arm or around your ankle. If you run early in the morning or at night, check out these night running safety tips

Carry your phone

Your phone can do more than just play music or track your GPS. It’s the most beneficial tool you can have in the event of an emergency. Make sure your phone is fully charged before you take off on your run. If you’re ever in an accident or come upon one, having your phone available can make a massive difference. Carry your phone hassle-free with a SPIbelt. They’re available in many different sizes and colors.

Tell someone about your run

Before you take off, tell someone your planned route, mileage, and when they can expect you back. This person can be a loved one, co-worker, or roommate. This gives them an idea of when to expect you back and where to check should you not come back on time. Turn on the setting that allows someone to know your location, most smartphones have this. Here are instructions for iPhone and Android on how to share your location.

Pro tip: vary your route. Switching up your route is not only great for your training, but it also reduces the chances of someone harming you on your run.

By utilizing one or all 7 of these safety tips, you increase the chances that you stay safe on your next run. Chances are you already use some of these. Increase your safety when running by using them all the time!

Convince Your Friend to Train for a Half Marathon with You

5 ways to convince your friend to train for a half marathon with you

Maybe you have a race coming up and you don’t want to train alone. Perhaps you need some motivation to get your running groove back. Or you could have a friend who’s talked about running a half marathon, but has yet to commit. Regardless of the reason, it is time to convince your friend to train for a half marathon with you. Training with a buddy is not only fun, but inspiring as well. You can encourage each other while training for the upcoming 13.1-miler. If they’re still on the fence, convince your friend to train for a half marathon with you using the 5 tips below. Remember, running is contagious!

Incorporate a stretch routine before all runs and workouts.

Pro tip: it’s important to remember that life happens. Share how you balance life and training with your friend. That and these 5 helpful tips will give them what they need to train successfully.

1. Describe the race-day experience

Sometimes not knowing what to expect on race day can be detrimental. Take this opportunity to let your friend know what happens during race weekend. From packet pickup to the finish line festival, explain the process and what happens along the way. Provide details about the vendor-filled expo, what to expect on race morning, and the party at the finish line. Build this 4-stretch routine into your training plan and make it part of your race morning.

2. Share training information

Share information, like your favorite GPS watch, with your friend.

Share tips about how to train for the upcoming half. Provide guidance for essential items like running shoes, GPS watches, nutrition, training plans, stretching exercises, etc. Communicate what works and didn’t work for you. This is also a chance for you to determine what might be holding them back. Your friend will have lots of questions. You want to make the entire experience as enjoyable as possible for them. Think back to training for your first 13.1-miler and try to anticipate what they might need. Chances are there are a few things that’ll help them that they’re not aware of, like side stitches. Share these side-stitch prevention methods with them.

3. Provide support and encouragement

Keep in mind, running can seem daunting for a first-timer. Offer support and inspiration that’ll help them continue, even during the tough times. Take small steps and set smaller, weekly goals. Incorporate the ABCs of goal setting and they will help you both build-up to the main goal: crossing the half marathon finish line. Don’t throw your friend into full-fledged running, especially if they’ve never run before. Recall why you started running in the first place and try to impart that to your friend.

4. Work at their pace

Your insight will help your friend cross the finish line!

Your enthusiasm for the half marathon might discourage your friend who might feel less-than-ready to run. To counteract this, make your training run sessions fun. Include tunes they enjoy or run in an area they’re familiar with. Be sure to not make them burn out. Keep things at their pace, from running to the information you share. Again, revert back to training for your first half and what worked for you. If your runs are at night because of their schedule, follow these safety tips and enjoy the benefits of running at night.

5. Create friendly competition and give rewards

What better way to stimulate the passion for running than some competition. It is a fun way to challenge each other during training. Rewards can be small and inexpensive, like home-baked cookies or a new pair of socks. It shows your friend that you’re thinking of them and will incentivize them to reach their goal. When thinking about competition, it doesn’t have to be between the two of you. Challenge your friend to run half a mile further than before or a few seconds faster during a speed workout. After all, they’re their own competition.

Running is an exciting way to get fit and have fun. What better way to enjoy this sport and train for the next half marathon than with your friend? This advice will help you get them off the fence and in training mode. Establish a routine, set smaller goals, and create friendly competition to help your friend cross their first half marathon finish line!