Run For Your Life: How Running Can Boost Your Physical And Mental Health

Running can seem like an intimidating exercise, people often remark it’s hard to keep up momentum when you’re not exactly running for a purpose, i.e. why run when one is not being chased? Running, however, is a very beneficial form of exercise for both your physical and mental health. Not only is it a super way to get fit and improve your mental health, it also requires no fancy equipment and is free to do, so why wouldn’t you give it a go?

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Heart Health

Running is the exercise to undertake if cardio is your main priority when it comes to fitness. The main part of our bodies affected by enduring cardio exercise is of course, the heart. Studies have found that running helps to decrease your likelihood of an abundance of life threatening illnesses, namely heart disease. PLOS Medicine conducted a study which found that the recommended amount of weekly exercise added years to the lives of people who suffered from heart disease. So, whatever your age, get up off the couch and into your running shoes, a healthier heart awaits!

Brain Health

Might seem like an odd link to make, but studies have found that running is connected to neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells. The reason for this production is still pretty much unknown. Researchers have guessed it is to do with the increased blood flow to the brain, and the release of certain hormones. Due to the fact new brain cells are generating, the part of our brain responsible for memory becomes stronger. Running therefore, helps to increase memory.

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Stronger Joints

People often claim that exercises that depend heavily on the intense movement of joints, such as running, lead to osteoarthritis. A recent study found that this was isn’t the case. In fact, running is good for “them bones”, as the song goes! The force you give off when running causes the bones and cartilage to strain, meaning like muscles, they’ll grow stronger over time in order to reduce this strain. It’s been proven that lower impact exercising like walking or spinning doesn’t have this same effect of building up your joints.

Decreases Depression

There have been hundreds of studies which suggest participating in aerobic exercise helps to elevate depression. These exercises are often brisk walking or jogging. Running, however, has been found to have the same effect on depression as psychotherapy has. When we run, our body releases a high amount of endorphins. Endorphins are primarily pain blockers, they help in and controlling our emotions. They’re a happiness hormone in the simplest of terms. Recently, however, endocannabinoid levels have been highlighted as another reason for running aiding in a decrease in symptoms of depression. Running over time helps to change the structure of the brain, so lacing up your running shoes can really be a long-term and significant means of combating depression and anxiety.

Improves Learning Ability

According to a study conducted in Germany “Regular physical exercise improves cognitive functions and lowers the risk for age-related cognitive decline.” This is due to a better sustained level of BDNF. BDNF is produced in the brain and aided in physical exercise improving learning.