6 Reasons Why Running Improves Your Mood

Trail Running
Running Mood

What is it that motivates you to exercise and make time for physical activity? Is your reason for fitness to improve your health, boost immunity or revamp muscle strength? While both men and women have their own motivating factors, there’s one that keeps the majority of athletes coming back for more. Running is an activity that promotes wellbeing; it releases brain chemicals that promote exhilaration and euphoria. Read on for 6 reasons why running improves your mood.

With running, there is a feeling of happiness and accomplishment that stems from pushing your mind and body to the limit. Running promotes a feeling of contentment that can last for up to 12 hours, which is why many people grow accustomed to the post-workout ‘release of endorphins.’ 

Reasons Why Running Improves Your Mood

1. Running reduces stress

As you perform cardio, your heart rate increases. It promotes the release of norepinephrine, which improves cognitive functioning. The robustness of your mind can be affected if you experience an onset of stressful events, which is why it has the power to boost your level of intelligence. This is a cardio activity that forces the physiological self to push harder. The body can then communicate more effectively than it would normally. Since our hormones are controlled by the brain and nervous system, running promotes exhilaration.

2. Running clears the mind

It is a form of relaxation and meditation. Physical exertion takes the mind away from mental and emotional stress. Exercise requires focus and drive. When you push your body to keep moving forward, it provides you with relief because it takes your concentration off of anxiety and forces you to focus on the physical self. It allows you to fixate your energy on what is happening in the present instead of on the future or past. When the mind is calm it’s easy to think more rationally, make decisions and solve problems. As a result, a calm mind contributes to a happy and relaxed mood. 

3. Confidence booster

Any form of exercise can immediately make you feel more confident in yourself. When you feel assured in your physical health it boosts your mood and makes you feel more capable of accomplishing outside goals. It also allows others to notice a change in your physique. When you see improvements in yourself and feel confident, you may be more willing to socialize and take risks. Exercise has the power to improve your relationships and motivate you to further yourself in other areas of life such as in your career. When the foundation of your health and mind strengthens it has a domino effect on all other areas of your life.

4. It’s supplemental oxygen

As our heart rate increases, more oxygen is pumped to the body. By running regularly, the heart becomes more efficient at circulating oxygen so that we can keep pushing and shaping our muscles. It spurs the growth of new blood vessels simultaneously. With an increased amount of oxygen in the body, the brain begins to function at a higher level. This makes you feel more alert and helps you focus on tasks at hand. By regularly working out, the brain adapts to a rush of blood and boosts cell functioning. The brain then releases glutamate and dopamine, which hinders depression and significantly boosts how we feel.

5. Running calms anxiety

Runners’ brains are capable of building new neurons. These neurons then release a neurotransmitter, which helps manage our brain activity. Studies show that runners have fresh brain cells responsible for managing their emotions. To break it down, the hippocampus is much different in the brains of those who exercise versus those who practice a sedentary lifestyle. Strong neurons are more likely to be activated when you are confronted with worry or stress. The hippocampus in athletes who run are less vulnerable to anxiety and stress than individuals who do not make exercise a priority.  

6. Running promotes healthy eating

Many runners feel accomplished after they have pushed their body and mind to the limit. All of this hard work promotes a healthy diet, which contributes to a healthy and fully functioning body. There is a food and mood connection. Healthy meals offer vitamins; minerals and acids that our body needs to manage the nervous system, hormones and the immune system. When you exercise and practice a healthy diet you are also managing a blood sugar level and obtaining more of the antioxidants your body needs to grow healthy and stronger. This produces more serotonin, which is needed to make us feel calm and happy. 

Our bodies are sensitive to oxygen and chemical exposure. We experience stress hormones as a result of inactivity, unhealthy foods, worries, frustrations and fatigue. When we do not make an effort to care for our body, it can negatively affect nerve cells, impair memory and cause anxiety. Running produces chemicals that protect the mind from damage, stress and emotional disorders. 

The endorphins and euphoria that you feel during and after a cardio workout occur because exercise repairs neuron damage and promotes mental growth, which immediately improves our moods. When we exercise our heart rate increases and the flow of hormones begin to transform. As you stress your physical body, you are building a function that is better at handling mental and emotional conflict. By avoiding physical exertion your body will become more prone to stress and increase your susceptibility toward disease and depression.

The neurotransmitter is responsible for how good we feel and dopamine controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center. Exercise controls these areas as well as antibodies, GABA, endocannaboids and endorphins – all in control of how good we feel. Running is an extremely beneficial form of exercise because it encourages us, strengthens our cardiovascular system and tones all areas of the body. If you have yet to reap the benefits of running or exercising, it’s essential that you see for yourself what positive effect it has on the mind, body and spirit.

Has running improved your mood? Share your comments and experiences with us below.