The Mental Benefits of Running

The Mental Benefits of Running February 09 2015, 0 Comments

Every runner is aware of the runner’s high, the euphoric rush felt during and after a run. But the reasons for why that exists are much more fascinating than the feeling itself. Nevertheless, the feeling is a good one, which is why running is an excellent way to improve and maintain the mind. Below you’ll find a few of the main beneficial effects running has on the brain.  

Neurogenesis & Angiogenesis

We might as well get the big, hard-to-spell words out of the way, but both are the by-product of running. One is the growth of new nerve cells and the other is the growth of new blood vessels, and both are caused by running and work to increase the volume of your brain-tissue. Brain-tissue tends to shrink with age, but running offsets that unfortunate effect of aging. It also has the capacity to salvage other cells that would otherwise die.  

Enhanced Focus and Decision Making

A 2010 Japanese study found that people who recently performed an act of physical fitness outscored their inactive counterparts on mental tests. A quick run is better than no run, and the benefit of seeing the day clearer is certainly worth the minor inconvenience of having to move yourself forward at a higher rate of speed.  

Beating the Blues

In an age where depression is treated via SSRI medications, running regularly helps achieve the same or similar effects of those drugs. When considering the potential side-effects of those medications and the general displeasure depression causes, running to prevent having to worry about both is quite the bargain.  

Enhanced Recall and Preventing Dementia

Running can help stave off Alzheimer’s or general dementia. Aerobic exercise has been proven to stimulate and boost the function of the caudate nucleus in the brain, which is responsible for motor function and is also where memory circuits are located. What physical activity, particularly cardio, does for this region of the brain is speed up the transmission of signals throughout the brain, allowing for greater memory recall.