From Forest Gump to the 2001 astronauts, the rhythmic effort of running has long been a way of dealing with troubles in the movies. It seems to work for the characters – but is running a de-stresser in real life?
Happily the answer is a definite ‘yes’! Even a short run helps to ease stress as well as improve fitness. How does it work and why?
Exercise makes the brain produce endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals. Any form of exercise will go some way towards this, but the natural motion of running is particularly productive. Using our large leg muscles gets the circulation going and the lungs working. The extra oxygen and blood flow benefits the whole body.
The very nature of running means that we have to ‘leave it all behind’. Runners have to get outside in the fresh air, away from indoor stuffiness. Especially in the spring and summer months, even the most urban of runners will get a good dose of nature from passing grass, trees and flowers. The sun persuades our bodies to produce essential vitamin D and is another way to lift our mood. After all, who doesn’t feel better when the sun is out?
Runners sometimes prefer to run alone. That way there’s no competitive stress or concern about slowing someone down. The repetitive and peaceful nature of a solo run allows us to ‘zone out’ and spend time with our thoughts.
Running should never get boring. You can vary your route, your time and what you add along the way. You can even add refinements such as park running, or joining some fun races if you feel like joining an event.
So you are all set for the stress-busting run, when you find that the weather isn’t playing the game. Don’t be put off – there are solutions.
If the temperature is lower than you would like, try these colder weather running tips, adjusted for the season. If the Spring showers are causing problems, remember that running in the rain works too. But if it really isn’t very pleasant out there, you can still get those views and soothing scenery with a virtual reality treadmill.
So if you’re not at your most cheerful, don’t reach for the cake tin – put on those running shoes and head for the door for a definite mood boost. One foot in front of the other and one run at a time!
I don't think anyone can fail to feel good after a run. I used to think people were crazy getting up early to run but now I realise exactly why because it really sets you up for the day.
Thanks, have forwarded this to my grumpy partner! I know running helps with my stress levels so definitely worth a shot.
This is very inspiring and exactly how the running mindset should be. One foot at a time is what I have always said when it gets tough.