Remember when Forrest Gump discovered he could run? (It has to be one of the most iconic scenes in the history of cinema.) His life was never the same.
Running can make equally dramatic changes in your life: it improves your health and can have a transformative effect on the way you live. There are more than 70 benefits of running—while some of these may take time to take shape, the benefits below can take almost immediate effect.
Instant Mood Booster
It’s been shown that running can instantly improve your mood. If you are feeling down and out for no obvious reason, try going out for a run. Just 15 to 20 minutes of running can boost your energy and lift your mood. Aerobic exercise is known to produce endorphins, the body’s natural pain, and stress-fighting chemicals, that are responsible for the famous post-workout “runner’s high.”
Support Positive Thinking
Many of us struggle with negative thoughts that take over our minds and leave us feeling drained and unproductive. Managing stress and staying motivated are two major factors in maintaining a positive mindset. While post-run endorphins can play a big role in relieving stress, setting goals, and watching your progress over time can be a great motivator. Remember, even just 15 minutes of physical activity is proven to provide a release and increase optimism.
Maintain Positive Thinking
It’s also been shown that your positive mindset will last well past the adrenaline wears off, helping you approach your day with a better attitude. Aerobic activity like running activates the prefrontal and occipital parts of the brain, improving functions like cognitive flexibility, working memory, and attention control. These are all critical skills that can help you make the most of your day.
Manage and Cope with Adversity
According to the renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson, a positive outlook and resilience to adverse situations are controlled by two different circuits in the brain. So, even if you are a positive person, you are at higher risk to give in to negative thinking as soon as you are faced with a challenging situation. Running can help! The physical stress you experience on a run can help make you more resilient and impact the way you cope with adversity. Studies have proven that physically active people are less likely to panic even if they have anxiety sensitivity.
Meditation can be another great tactic to promote mindfulness and help with stress relief and creativity. In meditation, your mind is able to relax and find the peace which helps improve your attention and shut off reactionary thinking. Running can often help you to reach a similar state of mental relaxation and reduce the activity in the frontal cortex. Often times you will feel calmer after a run, allowing you to reach a more thoughtful state.
Improve Health and Confidence
Aerobic exercise has countless health benefits including maintaining healthy blood pressure, reducing stress, managing blood sugar levels, and improving your metabolic rate. Running has also been shown to boost confidence, body image, and self-esteem. In addition to all of the physical and mental benefits we’ve covered, running can help improve your posture, physique, and even look more vibrant with that post-workout glow.
Improve Your Learning Skills
Running and aerobic exercise causes your natural cortisol levels to increase. This helps aid in information retention. Running is also known to boost your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is necessary for memorization. Another study found that running is the best recreational activity after a learning session. If you want the information to stick after a training session, consider going out for a run.
Getting up early and going out to run is the epitome of discipline, which is often a key factor in success. Less than 5% of adults spend the recommended 30 minutes on physical activity in a day. The self-discipline you cultivate by setting an intentional routine like running could blend into the rest of your life!
You can inspire friends and family to run by sharing your milestones. A recent study found that people are inspired to run more frequently, faster, and longer after looking at the running habit of friends.
Studies have found that some physical activity, especially in the morning, can help make it easier to fall asleep at night. It is also proven to improve the quality and time of sleep.
These are just some of the benefits of running, but there are many more that you could notice after you spend months or even years with a regular running routine.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and, “Run, Forrest! Run!”