Saturday, 7 October 2017

RUNNING...CHEAPER THAN THERAPY


Most people start exercising because of the physical benefits, perhaps to get leaner, build muscle or lose weight. Others may be recommended to introduce exercise into their routines to help improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes or to help lower blood pressure. Exercise in general has so many known benefits, and the NHS claim it to be “the miracle cure we have all been waiting for.” Yet, rarely are the mental health benefits of exercise discussed…the physical benefits always come first. A 3 month transformation picture of before and after usually hooks people to follow a new exercise trend, because you can see physical change. A change in mental health or attitude is much harder to represent through a photo on Instagram.

Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, and exercise is not only a great way of improving your overall happiness, health and well being but it can in fact help to alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety too. Running for me is a great outlet, for any emotion, actually. If I am excited or happy, I like to run to burn off excess energy. If I feel stressed or anxious, a run can help clear my mind.
Why should you run? Well, first off, running is FREE! Yeah, completely free…(although if you get addicted I take no responsibility in the cost of entering races or buying new kit!). So, if joining a gym doesn’t agree with your bank account, running can be a great way to start bringing exercise into your routine. Secondly… mental health highs! If you suffer from depression or anxiety…keep reading!
Running boosts your oxygen intake and blood flow and so relieves symptoms such as shallow breathing, palpitations or numbness in hands and feet. Exercise also reduces the body’s stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol and at the end of a run, the release of endorphins will be triggered, which are known for being the body’s own natural antidepressant. This is also described as ‘runners high’ which can often leave you feeling euphoric, positive and clear-minded!
Image from puppyworldx.blogpot.com
No doubt if you are suffering with stress or anxiety, then you are probably tired too because of lack of sleep caused by constant worrying. The lack of sleep then makes you feel more stressed out and anxious and so a vicious cycle begins and seems impossible to get out of. WELL, running could help improve your sleep quality! Your body will feel more fatigued, and your mind clearer, so a better nights sleep appears more hopeful. The drop in your body temperature after a run is also responsible for bringing good restful sleep.
Perhaps making some new friends or meeting some like-minded people could help you with social support. Running can be a great sport for social interaction! There are many running clubs you could join or you could head to Parkrun on the weekends! Again, Parkrun is free, you can go as fast or as slow as you like and it’s a great way to meet people! You will probably find too, that your confidence improves from encouraged social interaction with your new running pals! Look here to find your nearest Parkrun. 
Lastly, running is great because you can keep setting new goals, and goals can make you feel like you have purpose. You could set daily goals such as “20 minute run/walk”. Once you start seeing improvements in your running (and you will!), you can start setting competitive goals with yourself to beat times or distances. Even if you just set a weekly goal of “put trainers on this week and head outside”…goals mean you are working towards something. Eventually, or maybe even immediately, you might want to enter a race. I personally LOVE signing up for races, because it’s my motivation to then stick to a goal!
Ultimately…running is awesome, and cheaper than therapy! So give it a try for your mental health if for nothing else and see how you get on 😊

Livvy

1 comment :

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