Running as an anti-depressant?

Running as an anti-depressant?

Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day.

Mental health is a subject that is increasingly being discussed and invoked, meaning – in turn – that so much of what used to be the “stigma” around mental health is being reduced. And that can only be a good thing.

So when I saw a link to an article “Running Offers a Mental Health Benefit Similar to Antidepressants, Study Finds” I obviously had to check it out, and it makes for interesting reading.

For the record – I am neither a scientist, nor a health professional.

Nor am I (or anyone in my family) in the least depressed.

But I am, as you may know, a crazy enthusiastic runner, and a firm believer that running cures all ills, so I found this article very enlightening.

I’ve given you the link to the article above, so you can read it at leisure, but from the opening sentence, it is clear that the researchers are optimistic about the good that running can do;

“Regular exercise can have a profound positive impact on your mental health. In fact, a recent study concluded that running therapy had effects on depression and anxiety similar to antidepressants.”

I won’t even try and explain the medical jargon nor the medication mentioned in the article, but what the researchers found is that the effects of going outside to run, of setting goals, of getting fresh air all had very definite benefits on participants suffering from depression:

“When it came to physical health, however, changes were more favorable among the runners, who saw a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and waist circumference and an increase in lung function. On the other hand, the antidepressant group experienced signs of physical decline, with weight, blood pressure, and triglycerides increasing, and heart rate variability decreasing (a sign of less resiliency), according to Cleveland Clinic.

The research team highlighted that exercise directly addresses the sedentary lifestyle often found in patients with depressive and anxiety disorders by encouraging people to go outside, set personal goals, improve their fitness and participate in a group activity.”

They go on to say that more people chose medication over exercise, and also that it was easier for participants to stick with their medication than their exercise programme, which is just a normal human behaviour, methinks.

Don’t we all secretly want the magic pill that will make us slim/fit/younger/healthier? So that aspect of the study is par for the course – we will always look for shortcuts.

But as a runner, and someone who has derived great joy from running in the 10 years since I started, I find this study interesting and encouraging and I just hope that the message gets out there- running is truly wonderful!

Sending hugs to any of you who might need one today, and every day 🙂

One comment

  1. Of course running is great therapy. I also read that the runner achieves a state of transcendental meditation around 30 minutes into his/her run.

    I am a sensitive person by nature. Now, whenever I get upset with someone at work or at home, I apply the 10k rule. 9 times out of 10, my upset would vanish after a 10k run. If it didn’t… I wouldn’t run another 10k, I would address the problem.

    In final year of college with time running out, I was not sure if I was in love with or just infatuates with this girl. 13 rounds of then 800m stadium did the trick.

    Married 33 years.

    Sanjeev Chhabra

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