School is stressful; that is something we can all easily agree on no matter what you are studying or what classes you are taking. However, the way we choose to cope with that stress is what makes or breaks us. Running has always served as an amazing stress reliever for me, but many people cringe at the thought of it. Lace up your shoes and let’s run through the facts (apologies for the pun, but I had to). According to a poll taken by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 20% of participants preferred running as a form of stress relief; however, 80% of participants still did not say they ran to help reduce stress (2016). Dear 80%, hear me out on this one; I think you might like it.
Sometimes, running can feel like a slow death if you have not run in quite some time. It can feel as if your whole body is aching, but that is because running involves multiple body systems, such as the cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems. When all of these systems interact with each other, it helps to train your body to react in a similar way when dealing with stressful situations (Blackwin, 2016). Running essentially conditions your body to use all of these systems to coordinate and work together, instead of each system trying to accomplish its goal and only its goal.
My personal favorite benefit of running is it helps you get better sleep (Blackwin, 2016). Stress about assignments, exams, and even work can be enough to keep you awake at night. Everyone has had a time where all they wanted was to get some shut eye, but stresses of the tomorrow keep their minds racing. By running, your body becomes more tired and causes you to fall asleep easier (Blackwin, 2016). Come on, who doesn’t like to get more sleep?
While watching a scary movie, have you ever gotten the urge to run out of the room right after something pops up unexpectedly? If you have, congrats! You’re completely normal. Humans are programmed with a fight or flight mindset. When faced with something that causes fear or sparks large reactions, we either fight it or we run from it. Running is a natural reaction for people to have when encountering stress. “The best and most logical way to relieve [stress] is to actually do some exercise… It’s how your body was meant to respond” (Blackwin, 2016).
People have many different ways of relieving stress but running works the best for me. Although running sounds like something Satan created, the pros definitely out-way the cons when it comes to stress and anxiety. The next time you find yourself stressing about an exam, take 20 minutes to take a jog around the block. Your body, mind, and maybe even grades will thank you for it!
Physical Activity Reduces Stress. (2016). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st#
Blackwin, K. (2016, June 29). 7 Ways Exercise Relieves Stress. Retrieved February 22, 2018, from https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/7-ways-exercise-relieves-stress/