A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that even a single bout of exercise could instantly lift the mood of someone battling anxiety or depression. A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood and concentration during the day.
You may wonder how simply running 30 minutes a day can make such large changes to your mental state. First, running releases endorphins. And if we have learned anything from Legally Blonde, it’s that endorphins make you happy. Running also causes a release in endocannabinoids which are the feel-good hormones associated with “runner’s high.” Running also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain’s response to stress.
According to the Huffington Post, running prevents cognitive decline. Cognitive decline begins around the age of 45. Exercising boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a major component of the brain that deals with memory and learning. It is one of the first regions of the brain to decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
Of course I can’t leave out the reason you probably started running in the first place: Running improves your physique. Weight loss and muscle gain can boost self-esteem. Gaining a higher sense of self-worth leads to a healthier mind that is less prone to anxiety and depression.