14 Surprising Brain Benefits of Running That You Should Know

Surprising Brain Benefits of Running

A study of 51 young people (average age 18) compared the sleep patterns and psychological functioning of runners and nonrunners. Those people who participated in running for 30 minutes a day, for 5 days a week, for three days were found to sleep better with improved ability to focus and psychological well being. Such improvement was missing in participants who did not follow a regular running regimen. However, these nonrunners were not completely sedentary and did get some exercise.

The research confirms that people of any age can reap these benefits if they cultivate a daily habit of running. 


11. Running Can be rewarding

For those who think running is pain, it’s time to get rid of this misconception. Experienced runners claim that they feel better and find it rewarding. 

Scientific evidence says that such feeling comes from the production of two different types of brain molecules endocannabinoids and endorphins. These chemicals activate the brain rewarding pathways after running like activities. The impact of these chemicals on the brain is similar to that of taking cannabis or opiates.

Images of brain scans indicated that a long-distance run increased opioid binding throughout several areas of the brain, which resulted in participants feeling a subjective sense of euphoria.

Hence, people can kill pain and feel better after a long run. But don’t confuse that with a wild euphoric drug-like high.

Besides relieving stress and improving mood, running can dull the symptoms of a bad mood and anxiety disorders.


12. Running offers benefits similar to mindfulness and meditation

Running is a sort of moving mindfulness meditation, says Martynoga.  Practicing mindfulness and meditation helps you live in the present. And running helps you get the same state of mind. You can focus on your breath and the senses of your body.  As well as achieve mental clarity, self-awareness, and peace of mind just like it happens after meditation.

Related: How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Overall Mental Health

For those who find practicing mindfulness a tough job,  running is the easiest option. Don’t you think so? Besides improving your fitness level, you can become more present during your run.

Now before you hit the pavement to reap the benefits of body and mind, remember that running for some benefits is a negative approach according to psychotherapist Michelle Shanley, working with running-gear retailer SportsShoes.com.

The expert recommends running with a positive attitude of “I want to give my mind a rest, connect with my body, improve my well-being and offer myself time to appreciate surroundings”. That mindset helps you see running as a positive opportunity and not as an obstacle.


13. Running keeps your brain sharp at any age

This is one of my favorite benefits of running! With aging comes poor memory and a decline in cognitive functions. But running can keep your brain young and healthy at any age.  It can also ward off age-associated risks like dementia. 

A review of research studied the effect of running, jogging or brisk walking on cognitive function in children, young and older adults. The results showed an increased ability to focus and enhanced memory function in children. Young and older adults showed a similar boost in memory along with improvement in task-switching ability.

Running benefits working memory at a macro-neural level.

These results align with the observations from Functional MRI Study in female college students. Fifteen young females participated in the working memory task after a session of acute aerobic exercise. Scans after magnetic resonance imaging showed improvement in the control process as evident from their cortex and the left frontal hemisphere of the brain.

Related: 22 Tips to Keep Your brain Sharp and Young At Any Age 


14. Running Boosts Creativity

Creativity Leads To Perfection

Another most surprising benefits of running are improvement in creativity. Curious brain scientists after a hell lot of investigation found that our unconscious brain is responsible for creativity and problem-solving abilities. 

During running, the unconscious brain processes that go on in the background put you in a creative state of mind. Because, while running you are mindful, less stressed out and in a good mood due to the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins. Like a meditative state of mind, you do not think of different things necessary when running.

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