We're currently experiencing our third national lockdown here in the UK, so with the gyms all closed, it's more important than ever to make sure you are getting outdoors (whilst still sticking to the government guidance of course - once per day in your local area). Unlike the first lockdown back in March, we're now deep into winter, meaning we're already more inclined to stay indoors to hide from the chilly weather. Remember though, it's important to get out and stretch your legs not just for the sake of your physical health but your mental health too.
Even when lockdown is over, getting outdoors is a recommended way to help improve your mental wellbeing. As stated by Mind, a well-known mental health charity, spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
How Running Can Help With Mental Health
Physical exercise helps your body to release endorphins, this is the same for running. After your run endorphins will be released, giving you that feeling of respite and making you feel happier and more energetic - often known as runner's high. Running can also leave you with a sense of accomplishment leaving you feeling strong and empowered from smashing any distance goals you've set for yourself.
Clearing the mind
Exercise is an excellent way to relieve some stress. Some people choose boxing, others prefer yoga or running. What remains the same is that you're solely focused on one thing, encouraging mindfulness, which is said to help reduce anxiety and depression.
We don't get a whole lot of sun here in the UK, at least, not during the weather we fancy going out in. We need sun to help our body create vitamin D to keep our bones strong and healthy. Aside from that, the sun is known to improve your mood and make you feel happier, for example, going out for a run and seeing the sun in the morning is likely to provide you with a happiness boost that'll give you a great start to your day.
What about running on the treadmill?
Running on a treadmill is still fine! Whilst you won't get the vitamin D benefits from running outside in the sun, doing anything you can to incorporate running into your life in order to make it a part of your daily routine is worth it. Those suffering from the likes of depression may experience difficulty finding the motivation to begin frequent exercise, so it's important to try and enable yourself as much as possible to actually give running (or any regular exercise for that matter) a chance.
Saving your exercise (such as your run or jog) until the evening will allow your body to wind down and relax as the evening goes on, helping provide a better quality of sleep. A lot of those who suffer from mental health issues often struggle with sleep and can't switch off, so saving exercise until the evening is a great way to encourage your body to help you fall asleep. Lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of mood issues the following day and plays a key role in maintaining your mental health.
We all know just how great running can be for getting to into shape, whether your goal is to lose weight or just feel fitter and stronger. Getting into shape, noticing the small differences in your body and achieving your fitness goals all make you feel good about yourself and provides a welcome boost to your self-esteem and confidence levels.
A secondary benefit to this is that you may even find yourself inclined to improve your diet as your interest grows, whether that's going full-blown healthy eating mad, or simply just trying to eat a more balanced diet.
So what are you waiting for?! Get your favourite running clothes on and try your best to enjoy the great outdoors!