Aside from the physical health benefits of jogging or running, there are also many psychological benefits. Some of these include increased mental flexibility, confidence, stress relief, and the emotional boost from the runner’s high.
Running and running are cardiovascular aerobic exercises. Such activity sends more nourishing blood to the brain, which can help you think more clearly. It also releases natural mood-enhancing compounds.
The challenges of running can also help you learn more about yourself, lessons that can be carried over into other areas of your life.
Changes in your brain
Running can help train the mind as much as it trains the body. You learn to focus and have determination to overcome obstacles and fatigue. You gain new insight into problems big and small and your abilities to cope with and overcome them. The will and strength that makes your body go through long runs or out the door when you prefer to skip a training run is what, in turn, gives you strength in other areas of your life.
It also leads to changes within the brain itself. In a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , researchers scanned the brains of competing distance runners. What they found was that the runners had more connections between the frontal-parietal network and other areas of the brain that are associated with self-control and working memory. Researchers believe this is due to the increased aerobic capacity and cognitive demands of running.
Running can create new brain cells
Running can also help in the development of new brain cells. Exercise is one of the key factors associated with the growth of new neurons in the brain, a process known as neurogenesis. In animal studies, distance running, in particular, was associated with increased cell growth.
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Evidence also suggests that running may have unique benefits for the brain. In a study that compared participants who participate in interval running training against those who participate in a physically active lifestyle, runners showed the greatest increase in cognitive flexibility. Running improves your ability to switch between mental tasks quickly and efficiently.
Being more flexible from a cognitive point of view means that, in the face of problems, you have the ability to quickly change gears, adapt quickly to changes and develop a new plan of action.
Increase self-esteem and confidence
Running builds confidence like few other individual sports can. It allows the runner to defeat trial after trial, growing stronger and more confident with each foot strike. It allows you to climb hills and clear obstacles. It provides a sense of power and freedom that comes with knowing that your legs and body are strong and capable.
Researchers have found that participating in physical activities like running and jogging is directly related to better self-esteem. Regular exercise led to a better perception of fitness and a better body image, both related to better self-esteem.
Being able to see how far you’ve come in terms of your mileage, time, or overall running ability can be very motivating and build confidence.
Better stress relief
Stress relief is another valuable benefit of running or jogging. Jogging can improve your mood in the short term by helping your mind stop worrying about your problems, but it can also lead to longer-lasting stress-relieving benefits.
Research suggests that following your running regimen during times of stress leads to increased stamina, which means that you are better able to handle the challenges that life presents.
Experiencing that “runner’s high” triggers feel-good emotions that can improve your mood and reduce stress. Researchers believe that these positive feelings occur because running triggers the release of endorphins. Using brain imaging, researchers have shown that long-distance running increased opiate binding across various areas of the brain, resulting in participants feeling a subjective sense of euphoria.
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Improvements in mood
In addition to relieving daily stress, running and jogging can have a positive influence on your attitude. The endorphin rush you feel during a run can lead to that burst of well-being or just a general feeling of happiness.
There is some evidence that exercising, such as running, can help relieve symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders. A 2013 study found that exercise was moderately more effective than no therapy in reducing depressive symptoms. However, the study found that exercise was no more effective than antidepressants.
Less stress, less depression, less fatigue, and less confusion are just some of the changes patients have seen after starting a regular exercise program. Running gives them something to focus on, allowing them to see more than just their state of depression or addiction.
Running or jogging is not a panacea for mental health and additional research is needed to determine its exact impact on the prevention and treatment of psychological conditions. Because depression is characterized by low energy and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, people with symptoms of depression may have a harder time staying motivated to run.
A word from Verywell
Running is certainly good for the body, but the evidence reveals that it also has many important benefits for the mind. Whether you’re a casual runner or a dedicated marathoner, your running routine can have a number of positive mental effects.