By Taylor Cavaliere
It’s important to pursue health, both mental and physical. There is no one right way to do this. There are certainly some ways more common than others, but ultimately, it is up to each person to individually decide what he or she thinks will lead to health. When considering physical health, two factors dominate most of the conversation: diet and exercise. Mental health can be a bit more complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Exercise has proven to have numerous psychological benefits. One of the simplest (and cheapest) types of exercise is running.
At our most basic level, humans have an innate biological and psychological process known as the “fight or flight” response. When faced with adversity, we make the choice to stand our ground (fight) or get out of the situation (flight). We face these decisions every day, including with anxiety, depression and stress in our lives. Do we sit and ruminate on it? Or do we leave the situation? Sometimes, we can’t leave the situation. But we can run.
Research has yet to nail down exactly how much exercise is needed to boost our mental health. However, research so far has shown that even after five minutes of exercise we can feel our mood begin to improve. This article from the American Psychological Association explains the lack of emphasis of exercise as part of mental health treatment plans. Exercise may not always be included in treatment, but in trials at Duke University and Indiana University, regular exercise has shown to help alleviate depression over time.
It’s hard sometimes. Lying in bed or sitting on the couch are so much easier. But just a short jog can give you the shot of endorphins you need to tackle your problems. So, can you run from your problems? Maybe not entirely. But you can run from the negative health effects of the stress in your life. You can run for your mind.