Recently I began training to run a half marathon. Through the years, I have run many races but it's been about 4 years since I ran a half. In the process of training for this, I have come to realize how much I truly missed running and training for races. I find it so rewarding and fun to put together the puzzle pieces of a training program over time to get your body ready. It's amazing to experience your body and your mind adapt so you can accomplish a goal.
For many years running or power walking has been my primary source for stress relief. I choose to go for a run or power walk when I feel extreme emotions (especially the negative ones). It clears my mind, helps me calm down and reduces my anxiety. Study after study cites the benefits of running/power walking (especially outside) for mental health.
The runners high is real!
I have definitely experienced a "runner's high" and it feels amazing! After about 20-30 minutes, I start to feel more positive, grateful, relaxed, clear minded, more confident, strong and I just have a higher level of overall happiness. It feels really wonderful!
"After a nice long bout of aerobic exercise, some people experience what’s known as a “runner’s high”: a feeling of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and a lessened ability to feel pain. For decades, scientists have associated this phenomenon with an increased level in the blood of β-endorphins, opioid peptides thought to elevate mood. However more recently, researchers have shown the brain’s endocannabinoid system—the same one affected by marijuana’s Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—may also play a role in producing runner’s high, at least in mice" -American Scientific
If you want to feel good naturally without putting toxic substances in your body, go for a power walk or a run outside in the sunshine and ride the runners high!
improvements in sleep
Regular running or power walking has been shown to help you set a normal sleep schedule. Chemicals released during and after relax your body and encourage deep sleeping. Having a regular sleep schedule with an adequate amount of sleep is good for your brain and improves your mental health.
For me, getting outside and moving more brings a noticeable improvement in my sleep patterns, which in turn improves my general mental health and mood the next day after a good nights sleep.
reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety & boosting mood
Running or vigorous walking reduces anxiety and depression. When you run, blood circulation to the brain is increased and the part of your brain that responds to stress and improves your mood is affected. This causes a change that temporarily improves your reaction to stressful situations. There are many studies that have backed this claim.
I always say that getting outside and getting my heart rate up improves my mood and state of mind 100% of the time, it never fails me!
I can't even tell you the number of times going outside for a run or power walk has turned my whole day around into a more positive direction mentally. Running has served me through the stress of raising 3 boys, the loss of my mother, difficult life challenges and hard personal growth.
I highly recommend getting outside and getting your heart rate up to feel great naturally and effectively.
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."