Who needs more motivation to run than to maintain her mental health? When I'm healthy, I'm happy. The reverse is also true - when I don't feel well, I am unhappy! Happiness, or mental health, is more complicated than being illness free. Running, or exercise, can improve the mental and emotional health of the runner. A runner may simply feel a sense of accomplishment or she may be happy because her clothing fits better, but studies show that enough strenuous exercise can also lessen the symptoms and effects of stress, anxiety and depression.
Some runners take up the sport for weight control or to increase stamina and endurance only to find that they are happier and less stressed in their day to day activities. Others take up running on the advice of a physician to reduce stress and control depression. Many find friendship and a support system along the way.
Running to Reduce Stress
Running is an effective stress reducer. If I have been spending too much time at the computer, perhaps attempting to create a content pyramid for this blog, I can begin to feel frustrated and discouraged. One of the quickest ways to reduce mental stress is to go for a run. While any physical activity can be of benefit, running is especially effective due to the focus required. It's an "all hands on deck" sort of activity. Everyone is engaged. The musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological systems are all focused on the same goal - pushing you down the road. Worries? Which worries? Everything hurts and I have to keep moving!
Running to Reduce Depression and Anxiety
As running or exercise is maintained regulary it can have positive effects on sufferers of depression and anxiety. (I'll show you the research) Unfortunately, those fighting these conditions often have difficulty motivating themselves to exercise regulary. They may need running buddies to encourage them along the path.
Running to Build Relationships
Runners are some of the most encouraging, accepting, and friendly folks you will ever find and you will find them everywhere - in the grocery store, airport, along the race course and at the running shoe store! They are easy to spot because they wear the same clothes, watches, shoes and speak the same language you will begin to speak. They talk of PR's and long runs, recovery and training, Achillies and shoes - always shoes. They listen to your woes and they don't judge you. They don't care if you are fast or slow. Runners are just happy that there are other runners in the world! You'll make new friends and build relationships when you begin running. Who doesn't want more friends?
Running to Fight Dementia
We will look at the effects of physical activity on the brain and how it helps to ward off dementia. In Running for Physical Health I mentioned some of my greatest fears were Stroke, heart attack, and Type II Diabetes. Dementia is another dreaded condition that progresses over time. If it can be slowed are avoided, it is worth every running step.
What better motivation than to know you are doing something that may prolong your life and make it more enjoyable along the way? I'm a granny and its the best job I've ever had! I want to enjoy it for many years to come!
Why do you run? Please share your motivation tips in the comments below.