Why Running Relieves Stress

Intense exercise, like running, relieves stress. When your body and brain recognize danger or a stressful situation, it prepares for the fight or flight response. That’s a built in response that served caveman quite well, but isn’t nearly as beneficial in the modern world. Opposing tribes or wild animals were a threat to early man, so to survive, the brain triggered hormones that made changes, like sending more blood to appendages, so the person could run faster or fight harder. We have a lot of stressful situations today, but few of them are solved with running or fighting, even though the body still makes the changes.

The hormones of stress can take their toll unless the body runs or fights.

Hormonal changes that are made are burnt off when you run or do an activity that requires a high amount of energy output. The body goes back to its normal state and those hormones are replaced with hormones that make you feel good. If that doesn’t happen, it can make you sick and even pack on the pounds around your abdomen. Stress hormones increases your heart rate, slows digestion, dilates pupils, raises blood pressure, makes you tremble, causes brain fog and even can make you lose control of your bladder or bowel. None of those are good, whether you’re in a traffic jam or dealing with a crying baby.

Running mimics flight.

Remember, your body prepares to run or fight, so it’s perfect. However, so are other types of strenuous exercise that get your body moving and increase intensity. You’re actually burning off the hormones when you run and also increases the production of natural opioids that help block pain. That’s where the runner’s high occurs. The increased circulation sends blood to all parts of the body, including the brain, to clear up the brain fog that occurred during stress.

Running is so good for stress, doctors prescribe it.

Many doctors recommend running or other exercise for mild depression or anxiety. Since it helps relieve stress, it can also help reduce the stress hormones that can result in both anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that compared to drugs that are used, along with some therapy, it works just as well as the drugs as an adjunct therapy. It’s more than burning off stress hormones, it’s the happy hormones running triggers that also makes a difference.

  • Running, like all exercise, can make a difference in your overall health and even increase the population of beneficial microbes in your body. Beneficial microbes also help modify your mood for the better.
  • Vigorous physical exercise, like running, can make a difference in your health in other ways. It can help lower your blood pressure, which can help prevent heart disease and even stroke.
  • One stress hormone, cortisol, is associated with the accumulation of belly fat. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, crowds organs and is the most dangerous type of body fat that increases the risk serious conditions.
  • All strenuous exercise like running, can help improve your endurance and posture. That makes you look more confident and when you look that way, people treat you that way and you feel more confident, reducing stress in the future.

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