Everybody is aware of the physical benefits of aerobic exercise. Most people sign up to gyms either to lose weight, or to maintain a toned body to show off at any given opportunity. It’s lesser known, however, that exercising can have very real perks on the way we think and feel.
A number of researches have studied this phenomenon, specifically tied to the effects that running has on the brain. The results that came out may surprise you and perhaps motivate you to try it for yourself. Keep reading to find out how running may be just what you need to improve your life.
1. It Helps with Stress and Depression
Some of us may forget that the brain is just another organ of our body. What we choose to do with the rest of the latter has inevitable psychological consequences. This link has been studied in a research from the Swedish Karolinksa Institute, which discovered that exercising has a substantial role in helping reduce stress levels on a chemical standpoint. Essentially, when training, the muscles produce an enzyme that clears your bloodstream from a substance responsible for stress-induced depression and anxiety.
2. It gives better sense of control
The ubiquity of technology and information is certainly convenient, but at the same time it makes our attention span very short and our memory scattered. A study conducted in the University of Arizona compared the brains of serious runners to non-runners. In the first group, they saw an increased activity in the regions of the brain responsible for working memory and executive functions such as switching between tasks and problem solving. Similar results were gathered from an experiment at West Michigan University, where after an intense thirty minutes run the subjects showed an improved “cortical flicker frequency” threshold, in other words a superior ability to process information.
3. It has similar effects to mindfulness meditation
While you’re running, your attention is entirely dedicated to coordinating your movements, regulating your breathing and being aware of your surroundings. All these activities are linked to mindfulness-based practices. Your basic instinct is to be engaged in the present, without worrying about the concerns of anything else. Brain scans show that running and meditation can lead to similar therapeutic effects on the brain.
4. It gives you a “Running High”
The idea that a run can function as a moodboaster with its “endorphin rush” has been popular since the 80s, when a number of studies discovering a link between exercising and the increase of beta-endorphins in the bloodstream. A more recent study confirms this theory, proving that after 30 minutes of running the level of endocannabinoids in the blood of the subjects is considerably boosted. These chemicals bind the same receptors of the brain as cannabis. As a result, the pain perceived and the level of anxiety both decrease.
The health benefits of running are therefore not exclusively relative to the body, but they definitely interest the psychological aspect too.
Are you willing to go for a run with all this new information? Let us know in the comments!
If you need an extra boost, use this video as a soundtrack to your workout!