It’s currently Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK (May 15 -21), which feels like the ideal time to talk about the benefits running can have on our mental health.
Yes, running can make you fitter, stronger and help you lose weight but, as anyone who runs regularly knows, it can also have a life-changing impact on your brain.
In this blog, we’ll explore the ways that lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement can positively transform your mind, body, and soul:
When you think of running you may imagine exhaustion, sweat and hard work, but there’s another more positive side to it: the runner’s high.
During a run, your brain releases endorphins, magical chemicals that make you feel blissful and euphoric. It’s like your own natural mood booster!
Whether it’s a short jog or a marathon, the endorphins released during running have been shown to significantly reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and combat depression.
Running outside and being among nature has an even greater effect, enabling you to breathe in fresh air, get your all-important dose of vitamin D, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the natural world.
Boosting self-esteem and confidence
Running is more than just physical exercise; it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself and perhaps even discover things you never thought you could do.
Regular running boosts self-esteem and confidence levels. As you set goals, conquer challenges and witness your progress, you’ll develop a new-found belief in yourself and what you’re capable of.
Whether it’s finishing Couch 2 5K or shaving off seconds from your personal best, each achievement will fuel your self-worth and leave you feeling a true sense of accomplishment.
Building mental resilience
Life will always throw us curveballs, no matter how hard we try to control it, and mental resilience is key to how we deal with this.
Knowing that we can overcome hard things and have experience of doing it in the past can be hugely beneficial when we’re faced with new challenges.
Running is an excellent training ground for building this type of mental toughness and resilience.
The discipline and perseverance required to lace up your shoes and keep going, even on the coldest, wettest mornings, or the days when you really just can’t be bothered, will translate into other areas of your life.
Likewise, finding the determination to keep going when you feel like you have nothing more to give, and completing longer and longer distances, will help prove to you that you’re stronger than you think.
You’ll find yourself better equipped to handle challenges, bounce back from setbacks, and maintain a positive mindset even in the face of adversity.
Creating a sense of community
It’s often thought of as a solitary past-time but running can also be a great social activity.
Joining local running clubs or participating in organised races opens up a whole new avenue for connections and friendships, and can help keep you motivated.
Running with others provides a sense of camaraderie and support. Sharing the joy of running with like-minded individuals can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It can also be an opportunity to give back to the community. Many running events are organised for charitable causes, allowing you to contribute to good causes while doing something you love. Or you can sign up to one of our virtual races as an extra motivator – knowing that every step you take is having a positive impact not just on your own health but also on the lives of others.
So, whether you’re a seasoned runner or just starting out, running can do wonders for your mental health. It might feel hard to get motivated at first, but the benefits to your brain are almost instant.
With no expensive equipment or pricey gym memberships needed, it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to get the burst of endorphins that exercise gives you.
Take it steady, at a pace that feels comfortable for you, and enjoy the escape that running provides.