Running Changes Your Body and Brain
Starting your run, you may notice a change in your body’s breathing pattern and pulse rate as your heart works harder to deliver oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain.
Your body releases endorphins as you find your stride. In popular culture, these are the molecules responsible for the “runner’s high,” a brief but intensely euphoric condition that occurs due to strenuous physical activity. According to surveys, runner’s high is a rare phenomenon, with the vast majority of athletes never feeling it. Long-distance runners often report feeling exhausted or even sick at the end of a race, rather than ecstatic, says Linden.
It seems improbable that endorphins in the blood lead to a happy state or any change in mood at all, even though endorphins assist muscles in avoiding pain. The blood-brain barrier prevents endorphins from crossing it, according to research.
Endocannabinoids—biochemical compounds comparable to cannabis but are naturally created by the body—could be blamed for the post-run euphoria.
Linden argues that exercise raises the amounts of endocannabinoids in the blood. Endocannabinoids, unlike endorphins, can easily pass through the cellular barrier that separates the bloodstream from the brain, where they promote short-term psychoactive effects, including reduced anxiety and feelings of calm.
Exercise’s Long-Term Mental Health Benefits
Regular cardiovascular activity can help the brain grow new blood vessels, so the advantages don’t end when you finish your run. Neurogenesis creates new brain cells in specific brain locations, which may increase general brain performance and prevent cognitive decline.
According to Linden, “exercise has a dramatic antidepressive impact.” For this reason, the brain is unable to respond as strongly to physical and emotional stress.”
Even more remarkable is that the hippocampus, the area of the brain connected with memory and learning, grows larger in the brains of regular exercisers. These are only a few examples:
Working memory and concentration have been boosted.
- Switching between tasks is easier.
- In a better mood
- Is running every day beneficial?
Running daily may provide health benefits. Running for 5 to 10 minutes per day at a moderate speed (6.0 miles per hour) has been shown to provide the following health benefits:
- mortality from heart attack and stroke is lowered
- risk reduction in the cardiovascular system
- a reduced chance of cancer development
- reduces the chance that you’ll get Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
A group of Dutch experts advocates running 2.5 hours a week, or Daily jogging for 30 minutes, five days a week, is recommended.
Running may also help you sleep better and have a better attitude. Researchers followed healthy adolescents in one study as they ran for 30 minutes each morning at a moderate intensity pace for three weeks. Runners scored higher on daytime sleep, mood, and concentration tests than non-runners in the control group.
Thirty minutes of various daily activities, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, may provide similar advantages.