Learn how running can improve your mood

Walking and running are great ways to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and lose weight. What you may not know is that walking and running come with benefits for both the body and mind.

Running can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress — and provide a major boost to your sense of self-confidence. According to experts at UPMC Behavioral Health, there is an emerging body of science that supports walking and running as a part of treatment for clinical depression.

RELATED: Running Tips from the Experts at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Center

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Running Elevates Your Mood

Stepping on the treadmill or taking to the trails can transform your mood.

Studies show that aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, running or jogging, release endorphins that can reduce depression and anxiety. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain — and stress — fighting chemicals that are responsible for the famous “runner’s high.”

Research has found that even a single 30-minute run or walk on the treadmill has the ability to lift your mood. This can elevate you from a good mood to a better mood, or help lift you from a depressed mood to a “normal” mood.

Speak to an expert at UPMC Behavioral Health Services

Running Helps You Cope with Stress

One of the most common psychological benefits of running is stress relief.

Stress can come from many different triggers such as work, family, or life-changing events. Running increases the amount of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. In addition, running gives you time to think about problems or escape them for a while.

RELATED: Hope for Those with Treatment-Resistant Depression 

Running Builds Self-Confidence

Walking and running is an individual sport — and all you need is a good pair of shoes to get started.

When you set out on a run, no matter if it’s a mile or marathon, you set a goal. Running farther or faster than before can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. For an even bigger self-esteem boost, take your run to the great outdoors. Studies have shown that running outside and soaking up the sun can improve a person’s self-esteem.

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About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.