Why Running Is A Powerful Weapon Against Emotional Anxiety
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, take heart – running is the best choice of exercise. We often talk about the benefits of running. After all, it’s the hobby which unites us all here!
The physical benefits of running include better heart health, muscle tone, and an easier time managing your weight.
But what about the mental and emotional benefits? Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain.
If you suffer with anxiety or depression, you have made a great choice by taking up running. It could be one of the most powerful tools for better health.
The Link Between Physical and Mental Health
Going for a run can actually help you manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety. By taking care of your body, you are taking care of your mind. Running can lead to better quality sleep, which can quickly transform mood, emotions, and mental health.
A Powerful Mood Booster
Running improves our mood, starting in the brain. We’ve all felt a “runners high”. Did you know that running can cause significant changes in serotonin and norepinephrine – the neurotransmitters responsible for boosting mood? And it doesn’t just happen during our run. The changes last long after we’ve taken our trainers off and had a shower.
Calming & Soothing
And there’s something about the physical actions of running which can help low mood. The repetitive stride pattern, swinging arms, even the sound of your feet on the ground, seem to have a calming meditative effect.
Just like yoga, running relies on a strong, regular breathing pattern. It’s difficult to focus on being anxious when you need to breathe. Go on a slow, steady run and focus on inhaling and exhaling for at least 4 counts each way. By focusing on our breath, we tap into the calming effects of our parasympathetic nervous system. Pair that with the soothing effects of being outside and it’s clear to see how running can help low mood disorders.
The Great Outdoors
Experts aren’t sure why being in nature calms and soothes us, but some things don’t need explaining. Every runner has their favourite go-to route which helps them unwind. It could be local woods, a pretty trail, the beach, or a wide open space. Your “happy place” will help you slow down anxious thoughts and focus on feelings of gratitude. Spending time outside lowers stress hormones, and makes you feel more able to cope with life.
But the power of running goes way beyond helping us calm down during periods of anxiety. Researchers have discovered that running can actually encourage the brain to grow new neurons.
So next time you go for a run, remember that you’re not just growing your body. You’re actually growing your mind, too.