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How running enhances mental health

January 29, 2019
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Photo by Alexander Redl

Running, and jogging, is arguably the most basic, effective, cheapest and free form of exercise in the world. Contrary to most other sports, it can be done almost anywhere without the need of any extra facility besides appropriate clothing. In fact, some people even save some money by running as a form of commuting to their work places daily.

Interestingly, despite being free, running has always been recommended in the prevention and treatment of a great number of illnesses; be it physical, mental or even spiritual! But, as they say, people will only notice the real value of anything until they lack it. 

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Given all the benefits of running, one would wonder why some people still struggle buying slimming, sleeping, anti-depressants, and many other pills that could simply be better replaced by a simple jog!
Even if one would argue that they can achieve the same goals with the drugs, they should consider that most drugs have negative side effects while running has even other positive side effects like a longer life span, among others. Some people even argue that running could possibly be a one cure for all diseases.
Besides the physical health benefits one gets, running also helps in preventing mental illnesses. After all, before one gets mentally sick, it often starts with the physical problems.
Mental health deals with the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of a person. It affects how they feel, think and act. It affects the way people handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions.
Running often enables one to go out and enjoy some fresh air outside, to interact and make new running friends, to have a goal and purpose that will keep him from bad thoughts (be it to aim to run a marathon, or keep up with a running routine to improve their physical fitness), to have a better self-esteem especially if they are beginning to look and feel fitter than they began running, and so on.
Some of the signs of mental illness include:
-Eating and sleeping disorders
- Having low energy levels
-Pulling away from people and usual activities
-Having unexplained aches and pains
- Having feelings of helplessness, or hopelessness
-Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
-Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
-Mood swings
-Thinking of harming yourself or others
-Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.

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Running is one of the best ways to keep mentally healthy and to cope with mental illness in case one is already affected.
However, there are also other ways to maintain a positive mental health. They include getting professional help whenever it may be needed, connecting with others, staying positive, getting physically active, helping others, getting enough sleep, developing coping skills, among others.
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