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7 Ways Running Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety

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7 Ways to Maintain a Stress-Free Running Habit 7 Ways Running Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety www.runnerclick.com

The first thing to come to mind when people mention stress and running is this: get moving to reduce stress.

It has been proven in many scholarly articles that running ad physical exercise is an exceptional stress reduction tactic.

Stress can negatively impact your running and mental health if you are not careful. 

Can Stress Affect Your Running?

Stress hormones can impact an athlete’s running in a very negative way. A stressed athlete does not inhale or exhale properly, and it is unlikely they are taking deep breaths. This can reduce the oxygen level in the body, impacting the benefits of exercise.

Stress can also elevate your blood pressure, making completing the workout difficult. That is stress with negative impacts. 

In and of itself, running and aerobic exercises can also produce positive stress on the body. Think back to the last time you completed a challenging workout. Your heart rate elevates, your breathing gets labored, and your body feels fatigued. These are also things you can experience when you are stressed from life. 

If you couple the stress of “life” with a challenging workout, one more thing to consider. The impact of this can make your body wonder what is going on. Your body may struggle with a harder workout if you are also going through external stresses.

This is a great reason to try to keep your stress level down if you can.

7 Reasons Why You Should Run When Stressed

Running is an excellent way to relieve stress. A running routine can reduce your stress level for many reasons. 

  1. Running can calm you down. 
  2. Running supports a healthy immune system.
  3. Running can help you clear your mind.
  4. Running with friends can be social and help you find support.
  5. Running reduces anxiety and depression in many people.
  6. Running can help you sleep.
  7. Running outside in sunshine gives you vitamin D, which helps reduce symptoms of depression.

Can Anxiety Affect Your Running?

Anxiety is the feeling of dread or unease. Try as you might; it can be difficult to make anxious thoughts go away. The benefits of running include clearing anxiety to some extent.

On the other hand, anxiety can also negatively impact the runner. If you have anxiety, you might want to modify your run somewhat. For example, don’t worry about the workout, stats, or anything else. Just find yourself a quiet place to run and try to let it all happen.

If you are looking for tips on stress-free running, we have them coming for you!

7 Ways to Maintain Stress-Free Running

1. Smile

Just having a smile on your face has been proven to improve your disposition, whether you are running or doing any other type of physical activity. Smiling is an excellent way to lower your stress level. It is hard to feel upset with a big grin across your face.

Smiling activates the secretion of endorphins in our bodies. Of course, it’s difficult to smile all the time during a run, but try to put on the smile for a while, especially when you encounter someone along your route.

2. Technology Free

Running technology-free is another really great way to feel less stressed. Forget the time, pace, or tempo and enjoy the moment.

3. Choose Your Route Carefully

We all have a happy place, right?

Maybe you love to run on the beach, or perhaps you are at your most relaxed when you are on a trail deep in the woods.

Whatever running route is most likely to put you in your happy place, that is where you should run. 

4. Slow Down

When lowering your stress level or anxiety around running, you should just slow down and take it easy. If you go for a run with high expectations on how fast and/or far you have to run, you are likely to fall short and feel stressed. Don’t try to break your personal records and achieve a gold medal performance every time you run.

You should not worry about your distance and pace during one run a week. Of course, we’re talking about recreational running, not about hardcore training plans or preparing for a big race. Just let your mind wander, take it easy, and relax.

5. Breathe Easy

If you are trying to relax, another tactic you can try is to breathe easy. Slow down your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out. Breathe easy to try to calm things down, including the chatter inside your own head.

Another thing to do is focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think about the breath as it happens. 

6. Listen to Music

Although we mentioned running technology-free as an option, listening to music that either relaxes you or makes you happy is another option. 

Consider playing something that has an upbeat tempo or a nice quiet beat to help you lower your anxiety. 

7. Mindfulness Podcasts or Guided Runs

Apps like Headspace have podcasts or guided runs explicitly made with this purpose in mind. 

How Do I Stay Relaxed While Running?

People usually tend to hold stress in their shoulders and hands during stressful situations. Many runners clench their fists in a certain way while running, which may cause tension in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and the rest of the arms.

Such stressors can throw off your running form, which can result in pain in those parts of the body.

Keep your hands loose instead of clenching them while running to avoid this unnecessary tension. For example, you may imagine that you are holding chips in your hands and do not want to crush them.

In turn, this will help you breathe more efficiently and keep your upper body relaxed during a run.

 Here are a few tips to keep proper running form:

  • Look ahead.
  • Land on the middle of your foot.
  • Keep feet pointed straight ahead of you.
  • Do not bounce.
  • Keep hands at your waist.
  • Keep your hands and shoulders as relaxed as possible.
  • Check your posture.

Rotate your arms from the shoulders. You should also check where you hold your tension, such as the shoulders, jaw, and hands, and make sure these are relaxed.  

For example, if you’ve noticed that you clench your teeth, try to open your mouth gently and take a deep breath. If you have tension in your neck and shoulders, shake out your arms from time to time.

These and similar practices help release tension.

Relieve Your Stress

Stress and running do not have to go hand in hand. Regular exercise can be an excellent way to help keep stress at bay and maintain your well-being. The key to stress management is not to let it control you.

Remember: you are in control.

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