Put on your shoes and go: why running gives a mental boost

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Does the sunny spring weather get you in the mood for running? Go for it! Your mind will thank you for it: running gives a mental boost. 

We can’t repeat it often enough: exercise and sports is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. This goes for running too. Whether you go for a quick round, run for an hour or pick an interval training: running benefits your mental health. 

Journalist and runner Scott Douglas found out himself. In his book Running Is My Therapy, he tells all about the positive impact running has on a life filled with fear, gloomy thoughts and psychological problems. According to Douglas, there are a few rules to think of when you use running to give yourself a mental booth. They’re quite simple. 

It’s not all or nothing

You can give yourself quite a hard time if you decide you can’t feel satisfied before you’ve walked at least three miles. But think about it: isn’t fifteen minutes running more beneficial than fifteen minutes of hanging on the couch? 

Douglas’ point is: don’t let minutes, speed, miles or your heartrate distract you and just go. The first step is the most important one, the rest will follow. Tip: pick a flexible route that allows you to change plans half way. That’s how you prevent yourself from putting too much pressure on it. You can decide how far you want to go based on how you feel during the walk. Same goes for your speed. 

Go outside 

A treadmill may seem convenient, but running outside makes you feel so much better. Choose places where there is little traffic and where nature treats you on beautiful views. Running outside isn’t for everybody, but even if you live in the city central, there are possibilities. 

Decide when to go 

Having a fixed rhythm is an important step if you’re not feeling great. For many people, taking a walk in the morning works well. It doesn’t just give your day a fresh start, but it also boosts productivity. Running at night, to let go of built up tension, can also be very pleasant. You decide what works for you.  

However, it’s wise to pick a fixed moment. That way, you’ll know when to put on your running shoes. 

Together or by yourself? Whatever you feel like 

Some people have a running buddy who motivates them to get off the couch (and the other way around). It can be very successful, especially if you guys have a similar speed and level of energy. However, sometimes it’s a good idea to go out on your own, for instance if you don’t want to decide how far you want to go before you leave. After a busy day, it can be great to find the peace and calm you need – on your own. 

So let your running session depend on what you feel like and what you need. No matter how quick, slow, long, short, early or late you run: you are running, that’s what counts. 

Text: Eline Hoffman - Photo: Bruno Nascimento