How Running Can Help Ward Off Stress And Depression
Regular exercise is one of the most powerful things we can do to keep our emotional health strong and robust.
We were all saddened to hear of the death of popular actor Robin Williams. Whilst it would be pure speculation to guess at the reasons behind his suicide, we can only guess that he was struggling with depression. Whilst running isn’t a cure-all for depression and emotional issues, it can certainly help with periods of stress and low mood. Here are just a few reasons to run for better emotional health.
Running boosts the body’s seratonin levels. Seratonin, the “happy hormone”, elevates mood and motivation, makes us feel more positive, and can even help with productivity.
Regular exercise helps minimise the production of stress hormones including cortisol. A moderate running schedule, with plenty of time for rest and recovery, can help with insomnia, fatigue, stress and depression.
It’s far better to do a form of exercise you enjoy, than to force yourself into doing exercise you think is good for you. So, if you love running, then carry on! The very fact that you enjoy it means it will have a better effect on your emotional health than doing a form of exercise you don’t like.
Exercising outdoors is better for your mood than indoor exercise. There are several reasons for this: fresh air and daylight boost seratonin, and give our body’s a chance to produce vitamin D. Did you know that vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression?
The sights, sounds and stimuli of outdoor running will help your brain relax and switch off. If you’re struggling with stress, head outside for a run. The change of scene will help your mind switch off from the stresses of work, finances, relationships or whatever else is causing you grief.
Run with a friend and talk it out. If there’s something on your mind, it helps to talk. But sometimes it can feel difficult to sit face-to-face and talk about your feelings, even with the best of friends. So head out for a run with a training partner. Somehow, talking side-by-side whilst you’re both focusing on the road ahead can make it easier to open up and talk.
Regular exercise leads to better eating habits and quality sleep. When we eat well, and sleep well, our emotional health is more robust. Big (and little!) problems feel easier to tackle when we’re healthy, fit and rested. So run regularly, eat well, sleep soundly and hopefully you’ll feel better equipped to tackle whatever life throws at you. We’re happy to be runners: aren’t you?