How can running support mental health?


Running can significantly support mental health in several ways:

  1. Endorphin Release: Running stimulates the release of endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good" chemicals, which can enhance mood and reduce stress levels 1 .

  2. Runner's High: The sense of euphoria experienced during prolonged runs, known as runner's high, is due to the release of endocannabinoids, which improve mood and neurological communication 1 .

  3. Confidence and Resilience: Regular running can build confidence and resilience by helping individuals set and achieve personal goals, providing a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. This is especially true for those overcoming challenges like anxiety and self-doubt 1 .

  4. Mindfulness Practice: Running offers opportunities to practice mindfulness, which is beneficial for mental health. Techniques such as mindful running, where attention is focused on breathing patterns or the environment, can help manage negative thoughts and emotions 2 .

  5. Stress Reduction: Running serves as a coping skill that can relieve stress and improve overall mental wellness. It allows for reflection and processing of life events, similar to therapeutic movements like EMDR 1 3.

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However, it's important to note that while running provides many mental health benefits, it is not a replacement for professional therapy. For individuals with severe mental health conditions, running can alleviate symptoms but should complement, not replace, clinical therapy when necessary 4 5.