This Sunday, 50,000 people will be running in the annual London Marathon. More than ¾ of these men and women will be participating to fundraise for a good cause, and each year, the event dedicates itself to an official charity to raise awareness. This year, as sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, the Charity of the Year is ‘Run for Heads Together’, in aim to end stigma surrounding mental health.
Recent research has suggested that regular exercise can be more effective than antidepressants, as it helps to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine – lifting your mood. Not only this, but your changing physical health helps to boost self-esteem and confidence, relieving symptoms of mental health in some cases.
Don’t get us wrong, we get that after commuting for a full 3 hours to and from your stressful job, you’re not exactly in the best of moods to get your trainers on and bust out some sweat. But we need approximately 150 minutes exercise per day to stay healthy – and so it’s important to do something you enjoy. Join a team, play football with the kids, or take a class to learn a new skill. But one sport that we will focus on today – for the sake of London’s upcoming Marathon – is running. Here’s how running can help improve your mental health:
Aerobic exercise, such as running or jogging, is known to reduce the body’s stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol – two hormones responsible for stress. If you suffer from anxiety sensitivity, running will be sure to help, as well helping to teach you valuable breathing exercises if you ever have an attack.
Running with a friend or a club is not only great for your technique as a runner, but also on a social aspect. It is well known that you should be able to hold a conversation whilst on a run to ensure you are not pushing yourself too hard. But this also gives you an opportunity to vent, or just get out and be sociable, especially for those who may find other social scenarios a bit daunting. Want to join a club? Just ask your local fitness centre, and they’ll be able to help you out.
Insomnia often comes hand in hand with other symptoms of mental health issues. However, exercising regularly can help to improve your sleep quality, helping us to feel less stressed, and have more energy the next day to tackle other areas of our lives.
Weight loss is a benefit of regular exercise, leading to a boost in self-confidence due to our psychical appearance. Not only this, but by looking in the mirror and be able to physically see your achievements, can improve our resilience and determination, helping to fight against mental health issues.
Often when we are feeling low, our diet suffers too, even though it is a key component to keeping our mental and physical health. Inadequate diet can lead to poor decision making, fatigue, weight gain and a poor immune system. Running is a great way to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, often leading to an increased appetite for healthier foods – as well as the ability to have a guilt-free cheat day!
As our previous post Resolution Re-boot examines, giving yourself a realistic goal can help to achieve your aims, which in turn, helps to boost positive thinking. Small but achievable goals, such as running round the block without stopping, or even just getting your trainers on, can help you become mentally aware of your inner state. Need some help to understand how to set your running goals? Click here to become one step closer to a better mental wellbeing.
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