Running and happiness: the two often go hand in hand. Even on those days when you really don’t feel like pulling on your running shoes and heading out the door, chances are by the time you get home again you’re brimming with energy and bounding for joy. This is due to the release of endorphins – the feel-good hormone.
This link between running and a greater sense of wellbeing is well documented, with numerous studies pointing to the connection between physical activity and better mental health.
‘If you're more active, there’s good evidence to suggest that at most ages, for both men and women, there's a trend towards lower rates of depression,’ says Lucy Lyus, information manager at Mind.
If you’re already a runner, here are five ways you can get an even bigger happiness boost:
Run with a friend
If you usually run alone, it can be a nice change to run with company. Either run at the speed of chat, so you can catch up on each other’s gossip, or use your run together to motivate each other to push that little bit faster or further.
Try mindfulness on the move
Leave your GPS watch at home and run ‘to feel’. ‘Stay focused on the present moment: notice your breathing; the sound of your footfall; your surroundings,’ says life coach Steve Chamberlain. ‘If your mind wanders, simply refocus on what’s happening in the present. Staying in the moment in this way has been proven to deepen your sense of wellbeing.’
Running in green spaces, such as woodland, is proven to be more beneficial for your mental health than running in an urban environment. So pop your trail shoes on and embrace the mud!
Set yourself a new goal
There’s nothing quite like setting – and achieving – a running goal to focus your mind and give you a sense of fulfilment. Pick a goal that’s attainable and not too far in the future, or you’ll lose interest. If you’re new to running, something like running your first 5K in eight weeks’ time is ideal. Click here to find an event near you today.
Join a running club
Runners are a sociable bunch! Joining your local club will see you make new like-minded friends – and research shows greater social interaction boosts happiness and helps beat depression. For more reasons to join a running club click here