How Running Can Improve Your Mood & Mind
Any run is better than none, when it comes to short-term mood improvement or long-term help with depression and anxiety. But some runs are more effective than others. Here is a little guidance on how to get the most out of a post-run boost.
Avoid the all-or-nothing thinking — the best run is the one you do for you.
Most studiesStudies find mood boosts after 30 minutes of running. The longer the run the more improvements are in your mood. However, a 20 minute run is much closer to a 30 minute run than not running at all. Avoid the all-or-nothing thinking about speed, duration or distance. For example, a “real run” has to be at least 4 miles or it’s not worth doing. The most important step any day is the first one you take to take you out the door. On mentally hard days run with a flexible route/routine that you can adjust to your preferences.
Run at whatever pace you need.
Analysis has found the best increase in endorphins is following moderate-intensity workouts; this is the getting your miles in at a relaxed pace. However, there is more to mood than endorphins; pushing yourself through a tough workout provided the sense of setting a goal for achievement. At the other end of the spectrum, allow yourself to run as slowly as you need to feel your own accomplishment. The most important thing about any run is that it happens.
Run outside whenever possible; choose an interesting route.
It has been reported mood improvements (more tranquility, reduction of: stress, anxiety and depression) when people run in a natural environment. Highly populated areas can cause more stress or awareness to the brain. A more natural route can bring an above-and-beyond boost to your run.
Have a designated running time that you can stick to.
Plan on running when you can actually most likely to do it. Many runnier with depression and anxiety say morning runs because it sets a positive tone and give a sense of success for the rest of the day.
Think about what you need from your run, and decide to go solo or with a friend.
If you have the option to run solo or with other, opt for whichever setup feels right for the day. If you’re needing to think through an issue, a clarity run sounds like it’s a good idea. Running by yourself gives you the option to run and think about your problem and clear your head. A solo run before and after a crazy day can also be more calm for your mind. Run with your peers when you need a break from your inner voice or talking through your difficulty with your friends. Another reason o run with friend is if you are struggling for motivation, running with others will help give you the chance of getting up and out the door.
Frequently mixing all of the above tips can keep your running more interesting—which will make wanting to go for a run more consistent—which means higher mental health benefits. Having runs of different distances, strengths, and places each week also helps free you from the common thinking trap that every day is the same.