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    Running as a Form of Self Care

    Running is often controversial. So, running as a form of self care? Some people love it while others can’t stand it. At first, I was not a fan. But, when I practiced over and over again, I began to notice the benefits of running and it suddenly became enjoyable for me. Have you ever considered adopting running as a hobby? Here are a few reasons that may persuade you to follow through with this hobby!

    Benefits of Running

    Of course, running is beneficial for your physical health, as it improves your overall fitness, reduces the risks of cancer, works wonders for your joints, and reduces aging. Did you know that it’s actually good for your mental health too? In fact, several studies suggest that running and exercise improve your memory and focus, improves your mood, sharpens your mind, reduces your stress, and helps us enjoy nature.

    Several of us are stuck at desks the majority of the day, so it’s important for us to get outside and enjoy nature. Running’s a built-in nature session! Also, running is not expensive. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a decent amount of stretching to go out for a run. Compared to other sports such as football, cheerleading, soccer, etc., running is an affordable way to stay healthy and meet other runners along the way! If you prefer to run alone, that’s also a great option for some ‘me time’ and self care. 

    Is Running the new form of self care? I say Yes

    How exactly does running improve mental health? Several runners believe that it’s because of endorphins, which are released during your run. While endorphins do help with reducing pain in muscles, they don’t necessarily contribute to the euphoric feeling or mood change. Instead, the ‘runner’s high’ is due to endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring, lipid-based neurotransmitters.

    These endocannabinoid levels are increased with exercise and flow in the bloodstream. The neurotransmitters can easily move through the cellular barrier and reach mood-improving neuromodulators to create psychoactive effects such as a reduction in anxiety and a calmer mood. In shorter terms, running can increase levels of endocannabinoids, which then reach neuromodulators that can improve moods and mental health!

    Tips to Start Running

    If you’re interested in pursuing running but aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few tips! When I started, I was pretty lost and was unsure how to train properly, but with my coaches’ help, I’ve learned how to run in the healthiest and best way possible.

    First tip: be gradual. Start off with running a mile three times a week and work your way up to fitting two miles one day the next week. Unfortunately, most of us can’t go from 0 to 100, so it is important to maintain a gradually-paced running schedule. When you are going out for a run, trails and grass are best for avoiding shin splints; the pavement is often harsh on your joints and muscles.

    Before, during, and after the run, remember to hydrate. Your body needs the fuel and water to carry you on that run! I began running about three years ago, and in the beginning, all I wanted to do was run. However, strength and core training are just as important as the running and can be just as fun.

    Last tip: listen to your body. If you are exhausted and cannot fathom going for a run, listen to your body and take a rest day. Rest days are crucial and allow you to heal and be strong for the next run. I hope those tips were helpful and let me know if any of you have any other tips in the comments!

    Thank you so much for tuning into this article and I hope running seems more appealing now! 

    XOXO, Lauren


    Don’t forget to check out self care tips from Girl Spring – running included!