Did you know that 1 in every 4 Americans is battling some sort of mental health issue or disease? It’s a bitter pill to swallow but there’s no running away from it. Mental health complications have been on the rise not just in the US but the world over, with WHO pointing the finger at several triggers. Among them is the rising adoption of electronic media, social media pressure, violent TV programs, child abuse, and much more. While we could go on and on about where society is going wrong, we thought it best to concentrate our efforts on the solution. The answer could be as simple as running and jogging, which have been shown to not just add days to your life, but life to your days. Here’s how these two simple exercises are great for your mind.
A better handle on clinical depression
There are many studies linking reduced severity of clinical depression symptoms to brisk walking and jogging. In fact, one NIH study revealed that running can have the same effects when fighting depression as psychotherapy. In said study, subjects were split into three groups each given the following treatment solutions:
- Group 1- Exclusive running
- Group 2- Exclusive CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy
- Group 3- Both running and CBT therapy
All groups noticed a fairly similar relief of depressive symptoms. While this is by no means an endorsement of running as a coping mechanism over therapy, experts recommend a combination of both for the best mental health outcome.
Running can sharpen your learning abilities
Did you know you can become a better student by just running a little more? No kidding. Research published in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory speaks to the power of running in growing your cognitive capability, as relates to taking in and retaining new information.
In particular, the study showed that vocabulary learning accelerated by 20% in the aftermath of high-intensity running. That’s because of a rise in the release of catecholamine and BDNF triggered by this physical activity, both of which have been strongly linked to how our learning functions work. So run a little more. If you’re having trouble doing it alone and you live near San Diego Personal Trainer, we can partner with your very own personal trainer.
Your brain ages slower when you run
As we grow old, our brain shrinks, and our ability to do pretty much everything also takes a hit. Nerves kick the bucket and ultimately our cognitive networks thin. However, running might just reduce the rate of this shrinkage, keeping our minds intact for longer.
A while ago, researchers were curious about whether brain games or running and exercise at large, did a better job at stemming this decline. So they went in pursuit of answers with the findings of the study today available in Time magazine. To cut the long story short, aerobic exercises such as jogging and running come out on top in lowering cognitive decline compared to brain games.
Running is a powerful anxiety med
Feeling anxious about an upcoming job interview? Run or jog it out! Once you get going, your body releases endorphins, hormones that act much in the same way as morphine to give you positive feelings of euphoria. A concept the personal trainers at Iron Orr Fitness call the “runner’s high.”
Just to substantiate the anxiety-relieving powers of running, the ADAA, through extensive studies, established this form of exercise to be just as effective as anxiety medication. Running can take the edge off a racing mind, helping you get your thoughts in order and calm an unsettled mind. It can also provide relief from the symptoms of anxiety.
Your self-esteem goes up too
Wear a smile, straighten your posture, and work on your eye contact. If low confidence is a battle that rages within, we’ve all been there at one point, you may have heard a lot about what you need to do to bolster your courage. Allow us to add one more to that list. Running could be a way to awaken your confidence and self-esteem. It might just be what you need to be more emphatic at work and in your social life.
But don’t just take our word for it. Further findings by the ADAA state that running can catalyze the generation of brain cells, and also promote mental calm. In fact, another study in the NIH showed that running improves feelings of self-worth in obese kids while negating the symptoms of depression.
Ready to lace up yet? Consider training with a San Diego personal trainer. A running coach can help you fuel up properly, offer assistance with pacing and keep you accountable so you keep running and reaping its benefits for a long time to come.
An extra lap is good for creativity
Stuck in a rut at work? If inspiration has been in short supply, your light bulb might just buzz when you’re hitting the track or treadmill regularly. Running and jogging can get your creative mojo back, in many ways. First, physical activity kicks out cortisol from your body, promoting mental relaxation which may just allow you to see things from a different perspective.
Moreover, running and jogging increase blood flow to your brain. This means more oxygen and faster gray matter growth, both of which make you more creative, efficient, and alert. One female personal trainer San Diego also finds that the outpouring of endorphins boosts your potential to be more imaginative.
Running is great! But you may need more.
Running can alleviate anxiety, depression and even give you an injection in creativity and self-esteem. Good for your mind and heart as well, there’s much to gain from running and jogging. That said, while it might be therapeutic, running isn’t therapy. While San Diego fitness experts attest to the power of aerobic exercises in improving mental well-being, you may actually need to also talk to a mental health professional. Before you get there, start by opening up to a friend or family member about what’s on your mind. For more tips on wellness and fitness, check out the Iron Orr Fitness website.