Being able to deal with stress successfully is a highly sought-after skill. Job interviewers ask about your stress coping skills, and we go through stressful circumstances on a regular basis that require us to react appropriately.
One of the best ways I have found to deal with stress is running. To help show you how you can benefit from working running into your life, I’ve brought together 6 ways running can rewire your brain and lessen your stress.
1. Running Improves Norepinephrine Usage
There are a lot of different biological chemicals released when you go on a run, and many of them are incredibly good for you. One such biological response to the physical stress of running is the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that works in concert with adrenaline. This hormone can improve your focus, give you greater control of your emotions, and improve your response time to stressful situations.
Even better, the hormone norepinephrine hangs around in your body for hours after your run, so you can have access to these benefits for an extended time. As you run regularly, your body and brain will become more effective at using norepinephrine, allowing you better access to it.
2. Runs Activate the Brain’s Cannabinoid Receptors
Now, this has nothing to do with the external usage of cannabis but is purely our own internal version of the cannabis drug. Researchers have found that the endocannabinoid system is activated by running, allowing our brain’s cannabinoid receptors to fire.
The response of the cannabinoid receptors allows us to more easily deal with stress, anxiety, and pain. As you run regularly, your brain will be able to more easily utilize your body’s cannabinoid receptors’ response to running.
3. Running Can Improve Memory
Memory loss is a huge source of stress for most people. Ironically, increased stress can also cause more memory loss. In a study that compiled the results of many studies on memory improvement, a common result was that aerobic fitness is key to improving memory. As running is one of most effective forms of aerobic fitness, it only makes sense to add regular runs to your workout routine.
So, put down the Sudoku puzzle and build up a sweat as you run so you can protect your memory in the most effective manner.
4. Runs Cultivate Faster Brain Repairs
Your brain has a lot to keep up with and not always enough support. As it is the main regulator of your body, poor brain performance leads to overall poor performance, which leads to the release of stress responses. However, stress slows the brain down even more.
By engaging in regular runs and getting your blood pumping, you can improve your blood circulation, which will have a direct impact on how quickly your brain repairs itself. This is thanks to the oxygen delivered through your red blood cells.
5. Brains Learn Better after Running
One of the reasons students are encouraged to engage in regular aerobic exercise is that it helps their brains organize and learn new, complex material more effectively. In a particular study, running was shown to help increase learning ability. And what works well for our youth can also help adults as they continue to learn new things.
6. Running Reorganizes the Brain to Resist Stress
Running allows your brain the elasticity to reorganize itself and to be more resilient against stress. Working in concert with the above brain health benefits, the brain can change its stress response by utilizing the released norepinephrine, the activation of the cannabinoid receptors, and altering its neurotransmitters’ stress responses.
Whether you are battling stress-induced eating, memory loss, or are just under a lot of pressure, running can be the key to changing your brain and alleviating your stress.