Thousands of people are raising money (and heart rates) for the Bristol Half Marathon but what many won’t realise is that they’re not only helping the charities they’re supporting: they’re also helping calm their own minds.
We hear it every day (and we certainly shout about it enough): rest and relaxation are key to a happier mind. But clinging on to the old adages ‘everything in moderation’ and ‘keep a balanced life’, we also need exercise to encourage happiness.
Exercise is a form of physical stress: can physical stress ease mental stress? Alexander Pope thought so: “Strength of mind is exercise”. Plato agreed: “Exercise would cure a guilty conscience.”
Here’s some lovely juicy reasons to encourage you to dust off those running shoes:
1. Exercise helps combat anxiety and depression
Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones – such as adrenaline and cortisol – and also stimulates the production of endorphins – the chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are actually responsible for that wonderfully satisfied feeling (or ‘runner’s high’) you feel after a hard workout.
It has been verified in clinical trials that exercise has been successfully used to treat anxiety disorders and those suffering from depression and stress.
2. Exercise distracts you from everyday worries
Any activity that means you take yourself out of your normal routine, perhaps even enjoy some solitude and preferably the great outdoors, will de-clutter your mind from the difficulties of modern life.
With our worlds revolving around technology, staying connected and the constant pull of the ‘overshare’, going for a good run outside allows our mind to recover from this for a moment which ultimately makes us more productive and calm.
3. Exercise as a form of meditation
If you use large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion, it’s almost like a ‘muscular meditation’. Think of it like a grown up version of gently rocking a baby to sleep: any movement that is regular and rhythmical will calm and clear the mind. Swimming is an especially helpful exercise in this sense: the hydrotherapy along with repetitive movement encourages the most ‘meditative’ state.
4. Healthy body, healthy mind
This is an obvious one: if you keep a healthy body, you encourage a more productive, calm and positive mind. Your brain is part of your body after all, so abuse it and you will feel the negative effect.
If you’re running the Bristol Half Marathon, make the most of our Prepare and Recover Offer: 10% off treatments on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September and 20% off treatments on Monday 22nd September. Booking is essential: simply bring your race number or medal with you to receive your discount.