Happiness is one of the best experiences of life. That feeling of pleasure or contentment we get when we achieve something, feel good, and experience fulfilment.
What could be better than a bit of happiness?
Unfortunately, not everybody in the world is happy all the time. It’s part of being human.
We all feel low and down in the dumps from time to time. Whether you’re stressed, not achieving your goals, have money worries, feel lonely, quite a lot can make us sad. A lot of people experiences depression. A form of extreme unhappiness, which lasts a long period of time.
According to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people around the world are clinically diagnosed with depression. The NHS classify depression as a ‘common but serious low mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, handle daily activities like eating, sleeping and drinking.’
Running. A natural way to make you happier
Though feeling down on occasion is inevitable in this life, some ways are better than others at making you happy again.
Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, overeating, and smoking, can all provide a quick release and make you feel good at the moment. However, these behaviours are unhealthy and will affect your long-term health. Instead, try running.
Running is a natural and free exercise which is proven to increase happiness.
Running is a powerhouse sport not just for your physical health, but for your mental health too. With all these insane happiness promoting benefits, you’ll see running is a sport too good to miss out on.
In this article, we drill down 11 ways of running makes you happier.
1. Promotes production of feel-good brain chemicals
When you run, your brain releases a series of feel-good chemicals. Dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are all released during a run, and cause sensations of pleasure and make you feel good.
Many studies suggest that we’re less able to produce these chemicals effectively the older we get. However, a sharp burst of exercise – like running – is powerful stimulation for these neurotransmitters. Bare this in mind the next time you’re not feeling too motivated to run.
Remember, the run may start off uncomfortable during the first five minutes, but you’ll soon have a smile on your face.
Go for a run and make yourself smile today.
2. Improves your self-esteem
There’s nothing worse than looking in the mirror and not liking the person staring back at you.
When you’re unhappy with an aspect of your appearance like your weight or how tired you constantly look, this can have a catastrophic effect on your self-esteem. If you don’t like how you look, you won’t respect yourself and you may come across as down and depressed when interacting with others. It’s not pleasant, but this is a sad side-effect of not having a high self-esteem.
Luckily, running is a free and effective way to transform your body. When you start a running regime you will become fitter, maintain a healthy weight, feel stronger, and more independent.
Importantly, you’ll feel more confident and get self-worth internally. You won’t need others to reassure you that you look good. You’ll feel amazing and your self-esteem will be through the run.
Get into your running shoes and get moving for improved self-esteem.
3. Encourages social interaction
Human beings are social animals. It’s how we’ve evolved, and it’s our preferred method of living through life.
It’s no surprise people who don’t interact with others often feel lonely, isolated and depressed. Without meeting and speaking to others it’s easy to feel left out from society like you don’t belong. We’ve all experienced a sensation of ‘not belonging’ at some point in our lives. It’s not nice.
Running can be an incredibly social sport. There’s plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with others, often forming lifelong friendships.
Examples of where you can meet others include local running clubs, parkrun, sweatshop runs, beginner running groups, raising money for charities, and so on. Running is great for initiating and developing relationships which will make you happier.
Get running and meeting new people today.
For more information on why parkrun is a fantastic weekly run to get involved with, read the blog post here:
4. You kick-start productivity for the rest of the day
Think of how productive you feel when you just roll out of bed and get ready to face your day.
Chances are, not too productive. You haven’t done anything too major or demanding, meaning you haven’t built any momentum to propel you through your day. It can be hard to find motivation in these instances.
Running sets, you up for massive productivity for the rest of your day. Getting up, running, eating a decent breakfast, are all important tasks which will help you achieve a goal in life, like losing a certain amount of weight or running a marathon etc.
An important task like this is essential for building productive momentum for the rest of your day.
Suddenly, calling a client or solving that math problem or taking your kids to school doesn’t seem such a challenge; running early means already in the mood for getting stuff done.
Run early to build momentum and have a productive day. You’ll feel much happier afterwards.
For more information on why running early in the morning is great for things like productivity, read the blog post here:
5. It gives you a challenge
Lou Holtz once said, ‘when you stop growing you start dying.’ Powerful words from an inspirational man.
As human beings we love challenges. When we stop testing ourselves, pushing our abilities and expanding our capabilities, we feel lost.
Ever felt like you were trapped in a glass ceiling at work, or in school, where you were overachieving yet there was no higher level to achieve? Not a great or inspirational feeling is it? The good thing about running is that there’s always a new challenge to set yourself and complete.
Whether it’s completing a marathon for the first time, raising a certain amount for charity, or getting a personal best for your 5K time, there’s always a new target to set and overcome. Unless you’re a world record holder and have the fastest time for a racing event, there’s always somewhere you can push yourself to.
You don’t have to experience a glass ceiling with running. You can go as far as you want to take your love for the sport.
Engage yourself in a challenge of running today. Book a marathon, try for a new personal best or set yourself a charity target to raise for your next raise.
For tips to achieving a running goal, like running a faster half-marathon or 5K, read the blog posts here:
6. You feel more energized
Going for a run is a natural, caffeine-free way of feeling energised.
When you get going, your blood rate increases to supply your muscles with more oxygen, and you’ll feel more alert.
During and after running, you’ll have a mental buzz and feel much happier thanks to an increase in endorphins which were produced thanks to the run.
If you have a heavy work life, look after your young family, need more energy to take on the day, why not go for a run?
For best results, run in the morning before your daily commitments start. Think of your morning run as catapulting you into the day, ready to take on its challenges in a high alert and active state.
Don’t be groggy and tired through your day. This is a quick and easy way to not enjoy what you’re doing with your life and put a half-hearted amount of effort into what you do. Be energised by going for a run.
7. Better sleep
There’s a huge link between depression (and other low mood problems) and sleep problems.
According to the Daily Mirror, ‘nearly a third of the population is suffering from insomnia which is affecting their health.’ In a survey conducted of the nation’s sleep habits, it found that 30% are severely sleep deprived, putting them more at risk of mental health issues.
The most common sleep problem reported was insomnia, which means difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia is often characterised by nighttime wakefulness, waking up tired and groggy, and having an extremely low mood in the morning. Not anyone’s idea of fun.
Running can help provide a natural cure for insomniacs. Often, insomnia is attributed to having too much energy left over from your daily activities. Maybe you’ve been sat in a chair all day or haven’t walked many steps (maybe 1000).
Whatever it happens to be, you’re not quite tired enough for sleep yet but the clock says its time for bed. You lay in bed awake for an hour, wondering where it all went wrong.
Going for a run can be the answer to your problem. Going for a run means you will be more tired and ready for bed because your body will want to heal itself after the workout.
Go for a run and say goodbye to your sleep problems. You’ll feel happier as a result.
8. You’re more likely to eat a decent diet
Lots of evidence exists stating our diet has a huge impact on our mood.
A healthy diet filled with complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins, slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream meaning you have a sustainable energy supply.
Also, these healthy foods increase the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain. On the other hand, unhealthy foods high in sugar, salt and bad fats, give you a quick hit of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, only to make your energy and mood crash immediately after.
Think of a time you’ve eaten a bag of sugary sweets. You probably had a quick sugar rush where you felt energised and hyperactive. This probably lasted 15-20 minutes before you experienced an energy crash, followed by a drop in your mood. Maybe you felt lethargic and tired immediately after.
On the other hand, eating complex carbohydrates like whole wheat or healthy fats and proteins like mackerel, you had a sustainable energy supply and didn’t experience a spike or crash.
When you start a running regime, you soon realise you need to adjust your diet to properly fuel yourself for physical activity. If you think you train a half-marathon with sweets and crisps as diet staples, you’re in for a surprise. Naturally, you’ll experience a shift in your dietary demands and you’ll be more tempted to eat healthier.
As a result, you’ll have a sustainable source of energy and feel happier for longer. No sudden sugar rushes or energy spikes followed by mood crashes.
Running means, you’ll need a healthy diet to keep up with training. A healthy diet means you’ll be much happier.
For more information on foods to eat before a run, read the blog post here:
9. Exploring the outdoors
Running is an adventure that keeps on giving. Because it’s so fun to run outside rather than on a gym’s treadmill, there are countless opportunities for exploring the outdoors.
Whether you’re jogging through nature, exploring a new city, or running overseas, you will be constantly discovering new places and enjoying the outdoors.
In the 21st century, after thousands of years of science and technology, we’ve become accustomed to artificial environments like offices and buildings where we spend most of our time. Being outside, in the fresh air, can do you good every now and then.
According to Happify, ‘people are substantially happier outdoors then they are in a green or natural environment than when they are in urban environments.’
Make your self-happier by running in the outdoors. You’ll feel more relaxed and at one with nature. Give it a go.
You can find rewarding fulfilment from running. Not just for yourself, but for others too. You can enter a race and represent a charity, raising money and promoting the charities mission.
There are thousands of charities with different visions for the future. From alleviating the sufferings of the poor, funding research for terminal diseases or improving life quality for disabled people. One is bound to resonate with you and your values to inspire fundraising running efforts.
In the words of Gandhi, ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’
Running for charity is an easy way to change lives and leads to fulfilment.
11. Increase your resilience
No matter what we do in life, we need a degree of resilience to achieve great things. Many believe that we are most happy when we achieve our goals.
When we come across a challenge or difficulty which prevents us from completing something, its how one deals with the challenge which determines whether they’re successful. If they give up, they will be a loser. If they stick with it and keep trying, even in the face of failure, they will eventually be successful. It’s the harsh but true reality in this world.
If there’s one thing that running can help instil in you, it’s resilience. Though it may seem relatively easy and harmless, running is not a walk in the park. There are lots of challenges to overcome.
Steep hills, long distances, lone training sessions, cold weather, and overcoming mental blocks, are all examples of challenges runners need to overcome.
When you encounter a challenge and overcome it, you will increase your resilience. Naturally, this increased resilience will transfer to other areas of your life like your business, relationships, bringing up your family, other hobbies, and so on.
Running increases your resilience and can help you achieve your goals. Ultimately, you feel happier when you achieve your goals in life.