Running for Mental WellnessWe have all heard about the benefits of running on our physical health, but it can also be used as a technique to improve and maintain our mental wellness. Aerobic exercise has been linked to decreased stress, anxiety, and depression. Individuals who are more active tend to have higher emotional well-being than those who are less active, and running is just one way to get your body moving to increase your physical activity and mental wellness.

How Running Can Improve Your Mental Wellness

  • Decrease stress hormones and increase endorphins
  • Improve sleep and increase energy levels
  • Increase self-esteem and foster a more positive self-image
  • Disconnect from stressors and connect with your body

Running can serve both as prevention and as intervention for presenting mental health concerns, so it can be a beneficial strategy for improving mental wellness, regardless of your current emotional state. It is a great option for staying physically active and increasing your emotional well-being because it is affordable, adaptable to different levels of fitness, and versatile.

You don’t have to commit to an expensive gym membership or buy elaborate equipment to enjoy the benefits running can have on your mental wellness. All you need is your body and a place you feel comfortable running, whether that’s a neighborhood sidewalk, the track at your local park, or a quiet trail in the woods. You can pick up running as a technique for improving and maintaining wellness no matter what your fitness level is. Some people might enjoy a more fast-paced run while others may choose a slower jog while listening to music or their favorite podcast.

Physical Activity During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created all kinds of new challenges for people, including feelings of isolation which can negatively impact mood. Many of us are more sedentary than ever due to gym closures, working from home, online school, and anxiety surrounding leaving the house during a pandemic. Many have had to adapt their fitness routines or drop them altogether to accommodate the need for physical distancing.

Running outdoors offers a safe option for physical activity, either on your own or with friends. The activity’s ability to reduce stress and negative moods is much needed during isolating times. Picking up running as a hobby and form of exercise will give you a chance to get out of the house while doing something to care for your body and mind.

A Personal Experience

No matter how much I tell you about the benefits of running, you won’t truly understand them until you try it for yourself. Those who have been running for some time will tell you about “runner’s high” and all of the ways it is therapeutic for them. It allows you the flexibility to engage in physical activity in whatever way feels best to you, emotionally and physically.

It cultivates an appreciation for your body and a connection between your mind and your body, creating a physical sensation of relief from stress. When you find the right combination of pace and distance for your body, you may find yourself to be more relaxed, rested, and self-aware. You may experience higher self-esteem and satisfaction, as well as a more positive mood and overall increased physical and mental wellness.

If you are looking for a counselor to help you with depression or anxiety, Garrett Counseling has a team of trained counselors ready to help you! Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here.


“Physical Activity and Mental Health: The Association Between Exercise and Mood” by Marco Aurélio Monteiro Peluso and Laura Helena Silveira Guerra de Andrade

“Inverse Association between Physical Inactivity and Mental Health in Men and Women” by Daniel Galper, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Carolyn E. Barlow, Andrea L. Dunn, and James B. Kambert

This article was written by a member of our administrative team, Maggie North. Learn more about Maggie here.