The feel of the wind in your hair, the constant pumping of your heart in rhythm to every step, the crunch of your asics runners on the ground – cross country running is as close to flight as humans may ever get. But did you know that there are numerous psychological and physical changes going on in your body when you run? These incredible biochemical changes make running more than just a passion or something to do for fun. Running is incredible for your health.
There are three key psychological benefits of cross-country running: Confidence building, fighting depression, and preventing disease. Let’s take a moment to dissect each of this distinct topics
In an increasingly busy world, taking the time to just run may seem like an impossibility. Our ever-connected lifestyles, where we are inundated by media, scheduling, and events, means that taking the time to do something, accomplish something, that is just for us may seem a little selfish. But believe it or not, the confidence you build when you set specific cross-country running goals and meet them branches out into other areas of your life. The beauty of it is that this is something that is for you, and you alone.
Fight Depression and Mental Health Issues
The biochemical reactions in your body when you run releases hormones that reduce stress. In fact, many health professionals indicate that running and other aerobic exercise often has a similar effect on mildly depressed or anxious individuals as medication. If you have a mental health disorder, or are just a little stressed in your life, speak with your medical professional about the benefits of running as a means to help combat depression, stress, and anxiety. Additionally, running does not have to be a solo sport. Engage the support of friends and family to further combat depression, which is often triggered by (or even causes) extreme loneliness. By building up a healthy support network around specific cross country training goals, you will find that you can combat depression and poor mental health on a number of fronts.
Prevent Disease and Obesity
One of the biggest benefits to cross country running on a regular basis involves maintaining a healthy weight and exercising your cardiovascular system. How does this affect your psychological well-being? There have been definitive links between fatigue and poor health and depression. Whether the initial poor health and fatigue actually causes the depression and poor mental health is still being studied. However, poor physical health and poor mental health do seem to coexist hand-in-hand. This can include conditions like chronic fatigue, obesity, and cardiovascular issues. Running combats all three of these by providing your body with natural energy, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and keeping your heart strong. Even mild exercise, like walking outside versus running, can have a benefit for those who are too ill to engage in a full running program.
It is without a doubt that these three psychological benefits alone are enough to get you to put on your running shoes. Enjoy long lasting, lifelong good psychological health with cross country running.