Running is the Best Way to Beat Depression, According to Experts
Running is a popular form of exercise that has been shown to have many benefits for both physical and mental health. One of the most well-known benefits of running is its ability to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
In fact, research has shown that running may be more effective than medication at easing mild-to-moderate depression. A 2023 meta-analysis of nearly 100 studies found that exercise was 1.5 times more effective at reducing mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression, psychological stress, and anxiety than medication or cognitive behavior therapy.
There are a few reasons why running may be so effective for depression. First, it releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Endorphins are natural chemicals that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. This interaction produces feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
Second, running can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are often associated with depression. When we run, our bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. However, after a run, our bodies produce cortisol-binding globulin (CBG), which binds to cortisol and makes it less active. This helps to reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Third, running can improve self-esteem and confidence. When we achieve our fitness goals, we feel good about ourselves. This can lead to improved self-esteem and confidence. Running can also help us to feel more in control of our lives.
In addition to the psychological benefits, running also has many physical benefits. It can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. It can also help to strengthen bones and muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and boost metabolism.
If you are considering using running to help manage your depression, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your runs over time. It is also important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.
Here are some additional tips for using running to ease depression:
- Find a running buddy or join a running club. Having someone to run with can help you to stay motivated and accountable.
- Listen to music or podcasts while you run to help you to relax and enjoy your workout.
- Run in a scenic location to help improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Be patient and consistent. It may take some time to see results, but running can have a significant impact on your mental health over time.
If you are struggling with depression, talk to your doctor about whether running is a good treatment option for you. They can help you to develop a safe and effective running plan.
Here are some additional benefits of running for depression:
- Improved sleep quality: Running can help to improve sleep quality, which is important for mental health. When we sleep well, we are better able to regulate our emotions and cope with stress.
- Reduced inflammation: Running can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation has been linked to a variety of mental health conditions, including depression.
- Increased neurogenesis: Running can help to increase neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells. Neurogenesis has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of depression.
Overall, running is a safe and effective way to improve mood, reduce stress, and boost mental health. If you are struggling with depression, consider adding running to your treatment plan.
Study – Journal of Affective Disorders – the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
- A recent study suggests that regular running may have benefits for easing depression and anxiety.
- The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and presented by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
- It compared the effectiveness of running therapy with antidepressant medication for 141 patients diagnosed with anxiety or depression.
- Out of the participants, 45 chose antidepressants, and 96 opted for running therapy, with both groups following a 16-week regimen.
- Adherence to the running therapy protocol was lower (52%) compared to the antidepressant group (82%).
- The antidepressant group took escitalopram, an SSRI medication, but the intake schedule was not specified.
- Approximately 44% of participants in both groups showed improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms.
- The running group exhibited physical improvements in weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and heart function compared to the antidepressant group.
- The study aimed to provide individuals with anxiety and depression a practical choice between treatments, acknowledging the challenges of maintaining an exercise routine.
- Previous studies and the World Health Organization have also suggested that exercise can be effective in managing mental health disorders alongside or instead of medication.