Mental Health 3 Incredible Ways Running Can Improve Your Mood By Mental Health, April 25, 2017 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 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.