The Mental Health Benefits of Running

Direct stress-busting benefits courtesy of your endorphins

· Mental Health,Mood,Exercise

Written by Don Jenkins

It stands to reason that doing things we like makes us happy. So if you like running, it’s reasonable to think it will put you in a good mood. A paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2020 went deeper into this assumption.

Mental Health researchers summarized 116 studies that tested how running affects mental health. The findings suggested a little running goes a long way.

In 23 studies, participants engaged in a “single bout” of running. In 22, participants reported mental benefits. For example, 18 women ran 12.5 miles and afterward showed “significant improvement in measures of pleasantness.”

In another study, subjects who ran on treadmills for 10 minutes showed “significant mood enhancement” compared to subjects who spent 10 minutes “on a cognitive task.”

Our favorite study: 165 members of a running club did a 3-mile “fun run.” The results? An increase in positive mood and a decrease in negative mood.

The only study that didn’t show running improved mental health involved children 11 to 14 years old sprinting in a gym for 20 minutes at an “increasing pace.” Draw your conclusion about what that study proved.

The Cowlitz Valley Runners Club meets every Saturday morning outside a coffee shop for a run. After the run, some, in a pleasant mood, stay for coffee.

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