How does running actually help reduce stress?

We are constantly bombarded by people telling us that running is great for stress. For those who are a bit out of shape, exercise can be extremely stressful to take up; from feeling insecure at the gym to dizziness and shortness of breath after a small five minute run. For those getting into running for the first time, or are coming back to it after a leave of absence, the big question is: when does the stress relief actually kick in?

Running helps relieve stress in a number of different way. Here are a few of the sciencey ways that happens:

The ‘Runner’s High’

Some believe it to be a myth sent from gym marketing companies whilst others rely on their runners high as much as a corporate dandy relies on cocaine, but what is the truth behind the so called ‘runner’s high’?

This ‘high’ we hear about is a release of endorphins that the brain releases when we exercise. If you are new to running these endorphins may result in a strange feeling hat you may not be sure of; after years of quick and easy endorphin releases such as junk food and alcohol, the slow release of the feel good hormone from the hard work of exercising can feel a little strange.

Exercise also helps reduce the release cortisol, a stress hormone which makes us feel stressed and anxious. By running regularly, you help balance the release of endorphins and cortisol to help you deal with log term stress much better.

Exercising healthy habits

You don’t have to run miles and miles everyday to feel the benefits of running. Small runs 2-3 times per week help you form better habits that will also have a knock-on effect on your lifestyle.

Runners tend to be more goal orientated, and this wasn’t always the case for people before they started running. Running is goal orientated, even if those goals are small but achievable. Adding running into your weekly to-do list is a good way of essentially hacking your mental state to et goals and achieve them. You may find that after a few weeks of running you start tackling those tasks that used to make you stressed in the past with much more confidence.

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