My stress level has been pretty high lately. Work has been insanely busy this week, I’ve been learning some new stock/option trading strategies which adds to the craziness, and I have a billion things that I need to do at home and not nearly enough time to do them. To say the least, I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed. It’s times like these when running is just as essential for my mental health as it is for my physical health.
There’s no question about it, research shows that running is definitely a huge stress reliever. People who run regularly tend to have lower blood pressure and heart rate levels in psychologically stressful situations (source). In fact, that’s just one of the many psychological benefits of running. Here’s a list of the top 10:
Many people choose running as a way to relieve day-to-day stress. Running can help you work out problems by giving you uninterrupted time to think. It can also help you get rid of anger or other negative feelings. Exercise is one of the top ways recommended by professionals to relieve stress.
Anxiety is often treated with medication, but many people choose to try exercise before resorting to prescription drugs. Running has an antidepressant effect on runners, reducing anxiety and increasing serotonin levels.
Running releases endorphins that make you feel good. Running can give you a feeling of happiness that lasts for hours.
An obvious psychological benefit of running is confidence. Confidence may result from running if you’ve lost a lot of weight or toned your body. You may notice that your clothes fit better and that your body is tighter.
Finishing long runs or reaching goals builds confidence and helps you get used to success. Say you’re training for your first marathon – or even a 5k. Each time you complete a training run you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Once you’ve reached the ultimate goal of finishing that race, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment you can’t get from anywhere else.
Like anxiety, depression is a serious disorder that requires treatment. For minor depression, running can help provide relief. Running decreases feelings of depression in many people who try it.
Running can help your mind stay as sharp as your body. Running improves your ability to retain information as well as to perform problem-solving tasks.
Running can decrease fatigue, making you feel more energetic. Being tired is one of the top reasons people choose to skip a run. This is a mistake, as running will actually have the opposite effect.
Running can help a person fight addiction to drugs and alcohol. Many therapists suggest exercise, such as running, as a way to combat addiction.
Runners who run with another person or in a group often make new friends and develop strong relationships with other runners. People who run in groups help each other work out problems as well as reach physical goals.
I specifically notice that running tends to allow me to clear my head, give me more motivation and energy, dissipate anger or frustration and boost my spirits. All of this is a big mental pick-me up when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, angry, frustration or depressed.
Have you noticed any psychological benefits when you run?
Which are the ones that you notice most?