Does running regularly improve mental health?

Any comments or opinions? How has running affected your mental health?


  • I can't say I understand mental health and I've not to my knowledge suffered from it, but I have for periods been subject to extreme work stresses, and I find running works wonders, my times improved when I ran with things on my mind, it's incredible how much you can wind down, and when I seemed to be running whilst concentrating on other things the miles flew by and the times just kept improving

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    In my personal opinion any exercise has a positive effect on our mental health. Exercise releases endorphines which have a positive impact on our outlook. The difficulty comes when you throw medication into the mix...
  • Yes .

    Running for me has always been (and still is) a massive stress reliever, and I agree with EKGO that running is a fab way to cleanse your mind.

    I also know that my running helped me recover from clinical depression,and is a key part of how I make sure I don't slip back....

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Awesome young pup! I've been suffering for the last couple of months and my work occupational health advisor has suggested rigorous cardiovascular exercise. Due back to work in the next couple of weeks.
  • Depends on the issue and there's lots off statistical info in the positive and a lot of SAD sufferers find relief through outdoor running in winter

  • mr f - good luck!

    When I was suffering it helped me to make 30-60 mins of running a non-negotiable in my day, and especially when I started to come of the meds.

  • Most probably! Running burns adrenaline which is a real big part of many anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. The less adrenaline you have spare, the better! Exercising/running in-turn should lead to more sleep/better quality of sleep.....which is widely praised as being of benefit to sufferers of mental illness.

    The endorphins and endocannaboids (is that spelt right?) can certainly help with a person's sense of well being, not to mention self worth in some cases..

    That said, whilst running can help with the symptoms of anxiety and probably depression too.......I'd say that finding the route cause of a person's mental condition is invariably important. Only then can a mental condition be worked on. For example, if someone has depression because they are overweight or gaining weight, running can be the perfect antidote.....happy hormones plus losing the weight!

    However, if someone has low self esteem because....for example they were abused as a child or badly bullied as a teenager; running might help with some of the symptoms, but the real issues probably still need to be thrashed out with a mental health expert.

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Aiden, after your initial question what are your thoughts? Is there a reason for your question? studying? Dissertation? Personal research?
  • I have small kids and I find running a great way of getting rid of stress. Whenever I get worked up with them I know I can go for a run and get rid of any tension later. So far it has worked wonders on my mental hygene and whenever my kids realise that they are driving me nuts they'll say "don't worry, you can go for a run when we're in bed". Lovely.

  • Yes, I think they should release all the "patients" at Broadmoor if they promise to run a couple of miles every week.

  • I think so. I feel it flushes out stress and gives me a sense of well being. It's also helped me lose a shedful of weight which alongside dietary improvements has led to my blood pressure and pulse rate coming right down over the past few years. This has resulted in my GP firstly reducing the dosage and then taking away the beta blockers I had been taking for years for high blood pressure. The situation is being closely monitored but not taking these horrible pills seems to have made me less moody and less tired. I'm also sleeping a lot better too so for me the physical benefits seem to have crossed over into the mental side of things.
  • I think there is a difference between stress and depression, when I was stressed running helped. I had a peroid of depression when all I wanted to do was shut myself away from the world. Running didn't help then it was just another stress on my to do list and I had a break. I have just started running again. I don't wear a watch and try not to put any pressure on myself .


  • mr f wrote (see)
    Aiden, after your initial question what are your thoughts? Is there a reason for your question? studying? Dissertation? Personal research?

    I think that is definitely does help mental problems. I am a much happier person because of it. I'm doing an A level extended project on running and this I want this issue to be a part of it but I don't really know where to start. To get top marks I need a range of research so I'm thinking of doing a little questionnaire on here so I was just testing the water. Thank you for feedback everyone

  • Without a shadow of doubt, it's good for your state of mind.  There was one occasion where I'd had a blazing row with a family member, who was due to visit.  I was perfectly happy if I didn't see them for a long time - but then I went for a run and upon returning, those feelings had gone completely. image

    As far as helping with actual mental health issues, such as depression, I'm not too sure.  It can definitely help cleanse your mind though. image

  • id say regular running is far better than any medication

    first problem and often the biggest is accepting that one has a problem,

    but running can be ( at least for me ) its a real blessed control

  • Without a doubt. It was running that got me through my depression- had I not ran I don't know how I'd have coped and I think it'd have been ten times worse. It didn't cure it, but it definitely helped. It gives you time to reflect, so it can bring on negative and positive thoughts, but ultimately is a good thing. My depression was brought on by breaking up with an ex, the first thing I did the next morning was a hill run. I had to wear sunglasses so nobody could see my tears but I just got on with it.

    Now that I'm injured and can't do anything, I'm slipping back into depression again. I don't know how I'm gonna cope this Winter without any activity. I hate the old, lazy, unhealthy me. I have big goals out of reach, surrounded by my rivals successes. The injury is playing a massive part in the depression, stress and frustration.

    Beating my ex's dad in a half marathon this year was a wonderful feeling though. Flew past him after the 5th mile, saw his scowl as he turned round to see me catching him, I couldn't help but smirk and cruise past him. Finished 7 minutes ahead. Felt AMAZING! image 

  • The Chicken Farm - that's SO true.  My children also say to me I can go for a run later!!  I am so much more patient and calm with them when I get back from a run than beforehand.

    I'm training for the TT50 in Feb and am having to leave them with my mum and sister for several hours each weekend so I can fit long runs in (hubby works on a Sat).  Anyway, this morning I told them they had to go to Aunty Cathryn's on Sunday for 4 hours and that I was sorry for having to palm them off yet again but this really is a one off ultra event (only ever done marathons).  They then said "please do another ultra mummy, we like going to Cathryn's and nanny's so much!!!!"

    At least I can do it guilt-free from now on image


  • Study after study proves that exercise improves mental health in a variety of measures.   Have you tried typing that question into Google Scholar??   You will come up with 000's of papers, but there might be some recent ones that could be useful.

    Good Luck

  • Definitely does in my experience. If I didn't run I would be one stressed person! I find it helps deal with life's minor ups & downs. I think it could be useful for those sufferring from SAD or minor depression too. The only time I find running makes me feel low is the disappointment of a personal worst or under achieving. When I find myself being overly negative I tend to take a step back from racing & run for enjoyment. I'm soon eager to race again after a few weeks.

    All the best with the research image

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Torchbearer, your account sounds familiar in a couple of ways. Best of the injury healing swiftly so you can be out pounding the roads, trails and in-laws! Is it a serious injury?

    Liz, the event you have chosen is awesome ans really well organised. Your kids will be so so proud of their mummy! What an excellent example your showing them.
  • exercise in general helps with my mental health issues, but one of the biggest things related to running that has helped has been the large support network of friends I've met since I started running.

    but during my bad episodes exercise, either swimming, running, walking or cycling is a life line as (once I'm out of the really dark period) it motivates me to get out of the house and helps give me breathing space

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    One thing ive come to realise is just how common mental health conditions now are. More still needs to be done to recognise the sometimes horrific effects mental illness and to address the stigma that is still attached to it. Running and physical exercise does help significantly. Have a good day you lovely people.
  • Yes, as most have said, I think running can be a part of the jig saw leading to good mental health.

    Other things I've found hugely helpful is just trying to lead a simpler, ethical life, dealing with my past in a constructive way, being part of a like-minded community, meditation and helping others.  I'm a long time sober recovered alcoholic, which is classed as a mental health problem.

    I feel pretty well sorted these days - I have good mental health - I'm happy and have a good general sense of well being.  As I say, running is part of the jig saw, but I do not think it's the total solution.  I've had to do the other stuff that I've listed too.

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