We've all heard that running is good for our cardiovascular fitness, helps with weight control, tunes up our muscles and strengthens our bones. Did you know that it also does great things for your brain?
Of course you have - remember "runners' high'? That's the release of endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that works on nerve cells (neurons) which connect with each other throughout the body. They control your thoughts and how you move.
Endorphins act like morphine to decrease your perception of pain. Endorphins are just one type of neurotransmitter - some others include dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Running helps regulate these and can have a major effect on your mood. Exercise has been shown to help improve your brain chemistry and helps ward off, or at least lessen, problems like depression.
Almost any type of exercise releases neurotransmitters that will bring you mental clarity almost immediately and, with a continuing exercise practice, will reduce your rate of mental decline and even help guard you against some degenerative brain diseases. Scientists are crediting the release of neurotransmitters plus increased blood flow and oxygenation. Whatever the cause, it's exercise (in our case, running) that starts the good things happening.
Dopamine regulates functions like learning, attention and concentration. It helps you take action towards your goals and gives you a nice jolt of pleasure when you achieve them. Serotonin makes you feel happy and calm. Not only does your exercise increase serotonin production, but just being out in the sun will help your body produce Vitamin D and serotonin. Norepinephrine improves your sleep quality, deep sleep and helps you wake up, too. It also helps you manage stress and anxiety.
We already knew we loved running, but we've learned a lot more reasons why. It's not only great for your body, it helps your brain, too. Go get your shoes on and get out there - keep running.
**If you're interested in learning more about running and brains, check out this article "10 Mental Health Benefits of Running" by Candice Rasa July 6, 2017 The article is 3 or 4 down the list on the page. Here's the web address: http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/page/8