Running can make dramatic changes in your life: it improves your health and can have a transformative effect on the way you live. However, these effects may feel like such a long way off when you’re a novice runner. While it’s true — there are more than 70 benefits of running — some of the benefits may take time to feel, the 10 below may change your life almost immediately.
Running is an instant mood-booster
Running can instantly improve your mood. If you are feeling down and out, try going out for a run. Just 15 to 20 minutes is all it takes to boost your energy and lift your mood. Aerobic exercise produces endorphins, the body’s natural pain and stress-fighting chemicals that are responsible for the famous post-workout “runner’s high.”
Running supports long-term positive thinking
Many of us struggle with negative thoughts that take over our minds and leave us feeling drained and unproductive. Running can help you manage anxiety by providing a physical outlet for stress and a tangible motivator. Focusing on your progress can help you develop a positive, forward-looking mindset. Remember, even 15 minutes of physical activity is proven to provide a release and increase optimism.
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.
Read more: Can Running Help Improve My Mood
Running helps you cope with adversity
According to the renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson, 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 into 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.
Running will spark your creativity
Running is a moving meditation. It clears your mind in a way that can open you up to new ideas and mental paths as it reduces the activity in the frontal cortex. Oftentimes you will feel calmer after a run, allowing you to reach a more thoughtful state.
Running improves your 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 help you look more vibrant with that post-workout glow.
Running improves 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, consider going out for a run.
Running improves your self-discipline
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’ll inspire others
You can inspire friends and family to run by sharing your milestones. (Easy to do with the Runkeeper app!) A recent study found that people are inspired to run more frequently, faster, and longer after looking at the running habit of friends.
You’ll rest more easily
Studies show 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 duration 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?