mental health

How running can boost your mental health

Mental health is important and we should all make an effort to ensure we look after ourselves and our own mental health. Having suffered from depression I know that it isn’t pleasant. At my worst I wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around. I have no idea how I didn’t drive everybody important to me away. It’s not a position I ever want to be in again. I was very keen to avoid tablets so when my GP suggested that exercise would be good for me I started the NHS couch to 5k programme.

How does exercise help?

Exercise has been proven in quite a few studies to improve mental health. It releases endorphins which are the body’s natural ‘high’. That is simplifying their function a lot but they act as a pain inhibitors and are known to help improve mood and make you feel good. A lot of runners refer to this as a ‘runners high’. It’s that euphoric feeling at the end of a run. Endorphins are also known to help relieve stress. Exercise releases other chemicals that help you combat stress as well.

For me personally the best thing about running is the impact it has on my self esteem. I am not the most confident of people and spend a lot of time doubting myself and my abilities. Running has taught me that I can do these things, and in fact anything I set my mind to. It has shown me that I have a level or motivation, determination and resilience that I didn’t know was possible. It hasn’t also taught me that I can commit to something and see it through. Learning that I have these positive characteristics in my personality has been life changing! It’s given me the confidence to pursue my dreams.

Exercise also helps the body to get fatigued as well which means that you are more likely to get a good nights sleep after you have been exercising. A good nights sleep is one of the best things to help to promote positive mental health and exercise can help you to get that sleep.


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