Exercise-induced happiness fights anger, sadness, and anxiety. Just read the numerous studies out there that have shown that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and beta-endorphin. It’s easy to see how the body takes care of itself through exercise. I knew these facts before I became a runner. What I didn’t realize was that in this state, it is more likely that the person running will disclose and deal with his/her thoughts and feelings that might not otherwise be dealt with.
I’m not bringing this up simply because some article says it, I’ve experienced this phenomenon for myself. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was out for a run and lost it–completely fell apart and cried like a baby the whole walk home. Having just lost my father-in-law and cousin that week, I needed a good run to clear my head. It started out happy and strong. At mile 2 I ran past a pregnant woman who was out for a jog herself. The weight of my loss last year combined with the recent deaths came crashing down on me. When I got to mile 4 I could no longer repress those feelings, so I stopped running and dealt with the grief. (My sincerest apologies to the gentleman walking his dog who had to observe my meltdown.)
If you’ve never given running a chance, I highly recommend it for both your physical health and mental health. Take a friend with you if you feel like venting out loud–you’ll be surprised at the bond you’ll form with each other.