Yesterday I had the opportunity to give a short presentation to some of the youth from our church. These young men meet together one evening a week to learn, serve, and have fun together. The topic of the meeting last night was running. While I am not a “runner”, I do enjoy running and have long appreciated to health benefits of running. Lately, as I have been noticing my middle increasing in diameter, I have been telling myself that I need to start running on a regular basis. I think that giving this presentation was just the motivation I’ve been needing to get started.
I only had a couple of hours’ notice to prepare for my presentation, so I did a quick web search and found loads of information on the health benefits of running. I took my information from the website Active.com because I liked the simple way things were explained and that it addressed more than only physical benefits. Their 6 Benefits of Running touched on issues that many teens deal with, or that most adults deal with, at some point in their lives, including depression.
Physical exercise has been shown in studies to be very beneficial for people suffering from depression. In their 2006 article, Exercise for Mental Health, Ashish Sharma, M.D., Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Frederick D. Petty, M.D., Ph.D. discuss the virtues of “lifestyle modification” as a means to improving health and quality of life. They state that:
“Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.”
These are some of the processes we have discussed before in relation to dealing with stress. Certainly stress is intimately connected with anxiety and has a component in depression as well. The authors further stated:
“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.”
Below you will find my edit of the information from Active.com. I hope you find it useful:
6 Benefits of Running
Everyone knows that running is a great way to get into shape, but it also can benefit almost every part of your body and lift your mood. Whether it’s your favorite part of the day or something you have to push yourself through, the benefits are undeniable. The next time you’re thinking of skipping a run, think of these six reasons to get yourself out the door.
- Running Improves Your Health
Believe it or not, running is actually a great way to increase your overall level of health. Research shows that running can raise your levels of good cholesterol while also helping you increase lung function and use. In addition, running can also boost your immune system and lower your risk of developing blood clots.
- It Prevents Disease
Running can help reduce the risk of having a stroke. Many doctors today recommend running for people who are in the early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, and it is proven to help reduce the risk of having a heart attack. By helping the arteries retain their elasticity and strengthening the heart, your chances of suffering a heart attack can be significantly reduced.
- You Might Lose Weight
Running is one of the best forms of exercise for losing or maintaining a consistent weight. You will find that it is a leading way to burn off extra calories and that it is the second most effective exercise in terms of calories burned per minute, second only to cross country skiing.
- Running Boosts Your Confidence
Not all of the benefits of running are physical. Running can provide a noticeable boost to your confidence and self-esteem. By setting and achieving goals, you can help give yourself a greater sense of empowerment that will leave you feeling much happier.
- It Relieves Stress
Stress can actually cause a number of health and mood problems. It can also diminish appetite and sleep quality. When you run, you force your body to exert excess energy and hormones. Running also helps to reduce your chances of developing tension headaches.
- Running has the Power to Eliminate Depression
When you are depressed, the last thing you likely want to do is to get up and go for a run. Yet you will find that after only a few minutes of running, your brain will start to secrete hormones that naturally improve your mood. In fact, there are few things in the world that can help with depression than exercise.
Running is incredibly beneficial to the body, mind and spirit. You will find that even short runs can leave you feeling more energized, more focused and better able to enjoy all that life has to offer.