This I Believe

jason - roanoke, Indiana
Entered on January 24, 2007

The unknown benefits of running

I believe that running can improve one’s mental health just as much as, if not more than, their physical health. I have been running since sixth grade and have felt both of the benefits. However, it was not until my junior or senior year in high school that I noticed the great benefits that running has for mental health.

The biggest mental benefit that running has given me is stress relief. When I am stressed out, frustrated, confused, sad, or just plain in a bad mood, a run is the best way for me to get away. When it’s just me, the road, and the miles behind and in front of me all the other things just disappear. I am no longer worried about the answer to number sixteen in my calculus homework, or the chores that I still have to do, or the fact that some one close to me has passed away. All that fades away and all I think about is the next mile, and wonder to myself if I can speed it up a bit without dying by the finish.

However for the times when I am not stressed, I find running can fill my need for social interaction. Even I, who loves to run, can find running sometimes boring, and want someone to talk to. Everyone needs social interaction, and joining a running group is a great way to find it. I have been in many different running groups and have enjoyed spending time with the people I met in them.

Besides working as a great stress relief and giving the much needed social time, running can also improve your mood. Runners often talk about a “runner’s high. The high is caused by the release of endorphins while running. The high is what also leads many runners to compete. I have personally found that the bigger the race, the greater the rush afterwards is. However, with that being said, it is not necessary to be in a race to obtain the “runner’s high,” many runners can get one from just a good run.

Another great boost in mental health that running provides is a confidence boost. Everyone loves to improve, and when they do it is an instant confidence boost. Well in running, as long as you stick with it, you are going to improve. Five seconds might not seem like much to most people but, to a runner who just dropped that off of their personal best time, it’s huge. It is one of those feelings that you get when you say “Wow, look at what I have accomplished!”

Most people think of pain and agony when they think of running. Or they do it just to get in shape. However, I believe that people should run not only for the physical benefits, but also for the many mental benefits.