Running and Depression – Should you Run?

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I should be the last person talking about running and depression, I will admit that much.

When it comes to exercise my body is lacking – but not because of me lacking any will.
Up until 8th grade or so I was above average in terms of fitness, I was running a lot and doing different exercises.

But then I got a problem.

In about that time A certain pain around my legs (mainly my thighs) started bothering me.
I couldn’t sleep, climb the stairs or run like I used to, simply lying down for any period of time made my legs hurt like crazy.

Did I mention my sleep deprivation? Yeah, that’s why.

I couldn’t exercise like I wanted to at the time, and it killed my motivation completely.
Now I am slightly overweight (for the first time in my life), which, all things considered, is a good thing for me.

I lost about 25 pounds in 5 weeks during boot camp, and being slightly overweight is something that I can correct much easier than messed up eating habits, since My eating problem isn’t an eating disorder.

Seriously, for all the bad that boot camp has done to me, it did have its benefits.

Yet I must be your fountain of infinite knowledge and tell you a simple, yet convincing truth – since I made it my duty to inform you of any and all ways that may help you with your anxiety and depression.

So yeah, running.

One of the oldest practices in human history (next to sex), originally people ran from different animals and for hunting purposes.

The human was never a fast animal, yet we were always fast enough – if we weren’t you and I wouldn’t exist right now!

But there is more to it than that, of course.

What if I told you that this very simple, basic, doable exercise is one important habit that you could incorporate into your day-to-day life for massive results? Sound shocking, right?

Yeah, I thought so too.

But there’s plenty of brain research and psychology to back this notion up, so here are a few reasons for you to take running as sport and habit!

 

Running helps with depression

 

1) “The runner’s high”

For those of you who don’t know, and at the risk of sounding like an expert, here’s what it is all about.

The runners high is basically a feeling of euphoria, eliminating all feelings of pain and negativity from your body and mind, all the while focusing you on a single goal: keep running.

But more on that later.

This “high” is the driving force of endurance runners and the sole reason that they are capable of running for over 26 miles and completing something as extreme as a marathon.
Some of them even go as far as to say that it’s the reason that they wake up in the morning.
An odd thing to say about running of all things, no?
Well, yes and no.

It may sound extreme, but in practice, it really is anything but.
You see, when you are running your blood pressure rises, and because of that your hypothalamus will shrink.

You see, your hypothalamus, among other things, is greatly affecting your body temperature, and is being greatly affected by it.

The hypothalamus also affects your feelings and thoughts and is a major biological cause for depression.
So yeah, exercise manipulates your brain via your body temperature. Who knew, right?

Another thought about the topic would be the involvement of endorphins, and whether or not they are effective in this scenario.

For those of you who don’t know, endorphins are chemicals that your body releases.
They interact with the receptors in your brain and reduce feelings of pain and overall negativity – they basically make you feel good.

Some researchers claim that endorphins are great for endurance training.
Some were less enthusiastic, claiming that endorphins take about an hour to take effect, which doesn’t stand in line with multiple testimonies by runners and other endurance experts.

The runners high is a short-term effect, yet with enough repetition, it will stick to your brain, like any good habit should.

However there’s more to it than that, You won’t get a runner’s high without a sense of accomplishment to go along with it.

That desire to succeed is the difference between some sweaty guy running around and someone who gets a “high” from what he is doing.

2) Setting yourself a goal and reaching it.

Making a list and sticking with it is a great way to boost your energy and get stuff done.

Why?
Because people need approval for their worth often times, much more so when they are depressed.
Your ability to make a goal and stick with it gives you a sense of fulfillment and success.
After all – you set yourself a goal, something that you wanted, and then you put in the effort and made it!

It’s an awesome way crush down all of your doubt because let’s face it, who doesn’t like success?
I sure as heck do, you probably do too!

As it turns out, running is perfect as a list-oriented goal!

Here’s why: When you run you build-up your level of ability over time, your improvement can be measured by the day or by the week when you start out, it is a very real sense of achievement that you won’t find in many other goals that you will set to yourself.

Think about it this way – how long will it take you to make your time a minute faster, to run one extra mile without stopping? Results are quick and are very gratifying when you actually reach them.

After all, you put in the hours to run, you got better by your own virtue and no one else’s, and you deserve to give yourself a pat on the back.

So make some free time on your schedule, and run daily for maximum results.
Taking pride in your success is something that you will learn to appreciate as you work your way out of your depression.
Even if right now it seems annoying and hopeless, sticking with it is the only way it’s ever going to work for you, but when it does your life will be changed for the better.

And that’s something I can guarantee you.

3) It’s highly accessible

Let me be frank here, running isn’t the only way to get a “runner’s high”, despite what the name may imply.
Truth be told, activities like swimming or cycling can give you the very same results.
Actually, all rhythm-based endurance exercises can help you get into the runner’s high, research never found any particular advantages that running has over all other forms of similar training.

But there are “informal” advantages, so to speak.

See, running is much more accessible than the other types of endurance training.
You need water to swim, and that may be hard to get for most of us, and you need a bunch of equipment to cycle safely, including an actual bicycle.

When it comes to running, however, just wear whatever makes you feel comfortable, take your shoes (preferably high-quality ones, but more on that later), put them on, and run until you can run no more.

It’s so simply and basic, yet also requires no prior preparation, making many people think that running just isn’t a thing they should be focusing on – it’s cheaper than any alternative and it’s just as effective.

Heck, assuming you already own a pair, running is practically free! That’s already more than you can say about therapy sessions and antidepressants.

Now here’s something worth thinking about…

Runners high

To sum it up

I try to make all of my conclusions simple and on-point, and this time is no different.
Turn running into a goal, and it will end up as a passion.

A cheap, effective, powerful, passion.

There are more advantages to discuss here, like body image and the like, yet I chose to target only those who are specific for running.

I am a great believer in making a change by yourself, and alongside making habits and working on your mind, nothing embodies it more than running.
The reflective value that you get from running, on top of all the added benefits, really is an amazing thing.

So why do so many people don’t know how to run?

Well, they both do and do not.
Most people practice a terrible, harmful, running technique.
Here is my answer to this problem – it really is that important.

For now, Here’s a quick question for you: Did you ever take running as a hobby or a habit? Did it benefit you in any way?

More than one question, I know, but I have faith in your ability to answer!

If you want to ask me something, anything, feel free to send me an email and I will be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.

Email: VladOsipkov@projectconquest.org

 

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2 Replies to “Running and Depression – Should you Run?”

  1. Travis Smithers says: Reply

    When I was first reading your article, I could understand the concept of what you were getting across, but was also thinking to myself how I’m not a runner and have no real desire to run and was feeling would another activity like biking work the same.

    By the time I got down to your third heading I see you have included alternative methods and you mention two that I injoy but need to get back into them on regular bases, swimming, and biking.

    As you said, I do need to start with a plan and start building up by setting goals. Excellent article.

    1. Hello Travis, thanks for taking your time to comment!

      Not everyone likes running, and that’s fine. As I mentioned, there are different endurance exercises that you could go through to get the same results, it’s just that running is the cheapest and most accessible among them, which is why I consider it the best (from that point of view)

      But yeah, you could just run and/or cycle around just fine.

      Cheers!

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