7 Psychological Benefits of Running

Psychological benefits of running? That's right, with the practice of this sport you're training much more than just your body. Things happen in your mind and brain that can have an impact on your quality of life on a comprehensive level. We'll tell you more!
7 Psychological Benefits of Running

Written by Aylin Stefany Rodriguez Vinasco, 10 July, 2021

Last update: 10 July, 2021

To take care of our mental health, it’s essential to carry out activities that clear our thinking and make our brain work constantly. Well, these are some of the psychological benefits of running! In addition to maintaining a healthy mind, we’re training our psychomotor skills and acquiring a better physical condition.

Running is an activity that makes the whole body function as a unit. At the same time, it helps us to clear our minds and de-stress, allowing us to forget our worries, at least while we’re carrying out the activity.

In fact, research on the general benefits of practicing physical activity has shown that self-confidence, well-being, and intellectual functioning can all benefit.

Why does running have psychological benefits?

The psychological benefits of running are manifold.
This practice brings many benefits.

The types of exercise that have been studied the most in order to identify their possible psychological effects and benefits are the aerobic and rhythmic types. Among these categories we find running, walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming, among others.

Thus, running, or any of the activities mentioned above, has an important function in the brain. Mainly, it increases the oxygenation of the body, including the brain.

In addition, research has shown that it can reverse brain aging, contributing to the formation of new neurons, and thus help to prevent or treat mental disorders.

In fact, studies on the impact of running in the treatment of mental health diseases establish that this practice can be used as an independent or complementary treatment to any prescribed medication. Depression, anxiety, and dependence on psychoactive substances are the disorders most treated in this way.

The 7 psychological benefits of running

If you have ever tried to do running, or already do it on a regular basis, then you’ll have noticed undeniable benefits in your life. Your stamina has improved, you’re in better shape and, without a doubt, you’ll have lost weight.

But, have you ever thought about the psychological impact that this practice has had on you? You’ve probably felt happier and calmer, but there’s much more. Here we’ll describe some of the psychological benefits that running has for you.

1. Makes you feel calm

Running has a very similar effect to what some meditation can give you – it helps to make you calmer. Thanks to the effort we put into this practice, we achieve a balance between our motor and mental activities. As a result, when we run, we release serotonin, a very important hormone for the body and that helps us reach a state of relaxation.

Studies have shown that, as we mentioned, the practice of physical exercise helps to achieve optimal levels of this neurotransmitter. Taking into account that this influences the control of emotions and moods, after exercise it helps us to feel calm.

2. Reduces anxiety and depression

Research that sought to establish the relationship between physical exercise and anxiety found that running helps to significantly reduce anxiety levels. This was established thanks to the analyzes carried out on regular runners.

The reason is closely related to the previous point. Serotonin is a hormone that, in low doses in the body, can cause depression. By stimulating and irrigating it throughout the body, it’s very likely that we’ll avoid suffering from this disorder.

Returning to the specific case of anxiety, when running you’re also stretching your muscles, causing them to release tension. When our body identifies that there’s physical tension, it activates alertness, thus increasing anxiety levels.

3. It improves your self-esteem and self-perception

Running is quite an easy activity to carry out, and it permits you to better yourself each time you do it. Many people start this type of practice with the aim of obtaining physical results, which come with patience and commitment.

When you see that these goals are met and that your physique is changing for the better, with weight loss and a more toned body, it all helps to improve your self-esteem. But this isn’t all, studies have suggested that practicing sports improves self-perception, which also focuses on achievements such as physical and mental performance.

4. It makes us feel happy

According to research, when we practice running, even for just once, we release endorphins. This substance increases the sensation of pleasure, well-being and ecstasy. It’s not surprising that some people have called it the happiness hormone.

On the other hand, it has an analgesic effect capable of calming pain. In fact, many describe the release of this hormone as the natural version of morphine. When running, we obtain all these benefits, taking into account that, the more intense the activity, the greater the release of endorphins.

5. It improves your concentration and visual acuity

The psychological benefits of running include improved concentration.
Running can help a lot in job performance.

While we practice any sport, as well as running, we need to be attentive to our surroundings all the time. Running can be practiced anywhere, so, if you run in the street you need to be attentive to things that could potentially cause accidents.

In this way, we improve our visual acuity, concentration, and even our agility and reaction capacity. You can learn how to dodge obstacles along the way, seeing them from afar, even calculating distances.

This not only applies during running, but it’s also a skill that can be applied on a day-to-day basis.

6. It improves your coordination

The constant practice of running helps to strengthen the mind-body relationship. Over time, you’ll begin to identify that your coordination ability improves. In fact, this is also verified in the previous point.

When this relationship is closer, the body easily understands the orders that the brain issues, thus increasing the response capacity, and even more so when different sections or muscle groups are involved. If your work and other day-to-day activities require coordinated physical efforts, you’ll see how you’ll perform these tasks better

7. Improves your social relationships

Running can be practiced in a group or alone. When it’s carried out in a group, it enables us to form ties with other people, and we start to talk about exercise or even other topics. In the midst of this dialogue activity, social skills such as empathy, communication, and motivation are also strengthened.

In fact, there are several articles that highlight how physical activity is a mechanism to strengthen this social aspect. They recommend implementing it as a method in schools and universities. And running with friends and family, even strangers who have the same passion, can be more fun than doing it alone.

Take advantage of the psychological benefits of running!

Don’t wait any longer before reaping the psychological benefits of running. If you’re interested in starting this practice, we’ve given you 7 great reasons to take the decision to start running right away. And, if you’re already involved in running, were you aware of all these benefits?

There’s no denying that running gives you the opportunity to exercise and strengthen your body, as well as your mind and your psyche. Don’t miss the opportunity to obtain all its benefits.

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