Running makes you happier
Well most of the time it does, but the sedentary person might not agree. Scientifically, running produces ‘happy chemicals’ like endorphins which reduces pain and increases positive emotions. These are the body’s natural painkillers and create feelings of pleasure. You may have experienced the ‘runners high’ – a feeling of happiness, less pain during the early part of your run or race.
Running helps build Mental toughness
Thanks to these positive changes to the brain due to running. Overall this leads to building better mental toughness - Composure, confidence, concentration, Cope-ability and Cohesion – all can be improved with running. Mental toughness applied to life, work or play will help you become a better athlete, a better person.(2)
As a certified distance running coach, and also a Mental Toughness Coach from the Mental Toughness Research Institute (USA). I regularly conduct workshops on running and mental toughness and I see a connection - athletes who excel in their sport usually bring the same qualities of self-discipline and mental toughness to their studies, work and life.
1. Chan, Davis, Lindsay, Nagamatsu et al, ‘Physical activity improves Verbal and Spatial memory in Older Adults…’ Journal of Aging Research 2013
Weinberg, Robert. Mental toughness for sport, business and life. AuthorHouse, 2010.
2. Weinberg, Robert. Mental toughness for sport, business and life. AuthorHouse, 2010.
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Four Ways Running improves your brain function
You probably already know, or heard that running does your body good. Perhaps you also know running does wonders to your brain too. The benefits are both mental and physical. In fact almost every aspect of brain function can be improved with running – here’s how.
Running improves your memory
Various studies done on various groups of people, especially older adults have shown that memory test of subjects improved much more in the test group that went running instead of other forms of exercise like lifting weights.(1)
Those who did cardiovascular exercise like running produced had an increase in growth of a protein called brain-deprived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. The effect was not only healthier brain cells but actually caused an increase in new ones.
Running protects against brain aging
New research has proven that our brain is constantly reshaping itself. Your habits, behaviour, thoughts, emotions and daily experiences all combine to change the shape and connections within your brain. Called neuroplasticity – that means your brain cells are always forming new connections with each other, thanks to BDNF their function.
The world renowned Salk Institute in San Diego reported that all forms of physical exercise, as little as three hours a week helps generate new brain cells. Running can even reverse brain shrinkage in older adults.
Running helps you fight stress
As a runner, I get a small sense of accomplishment every time I finish a run because I set out to do something and I feel satisfied I did it. During exercise the body releases more cortisol, the stress reducing hormone. Exercise also makes neoplastic changes mentioned earlier that can make permanent changes in mood, self-confidence, promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. I have a big mug on my desk that says ‘Keep Calm and Go for a Run’ – the best advice ever !