When Running is MORE than Running: Running for Stress Relief

Running for Stress Relief


Running is my SANITY


I have taken the first step on many of the runs this winter not just for exercise but for relief. Mounting mental stress crests to the level that it turns into physical anticipation for the movement of running. I must move. I must run. I need freedom. When so overwhelmed and with no other outlet, running becomes my hour of escape.

stress relief through running

I have thought of many other reasons that very well could be the cause for my internal drive to run. And each take their turn to keep me stepping forward. However, these last two months, I have turned to running to escape stress. I know for at least that one hour I can forget problems and annoyances and be productive with accomplishments.

Being able to pick my pace, elevation, end time or distance gives me the freedom that stress won’t. To be swept away into another world, where all I need to do is take another step. And spending time with my running friends and hearing of their days helps me put into perspective my stress load.

All of this combined helps to relax my mind and body. I feel renewed and ready to venture forward into the rest of the day.

brain and running

Running to reduce stress is a real strategy says John J. Ratey author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (a MUST read)

“We can literally run ourselves out of that frenzy. Just as the mind can affect the body, the body can affect the mind.” Spark (p. 63). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Regular aerobic activity calms the body, so that it can handle more stress before the serious response involving heart rate and stress hormones kicks in. It raises the trigger point of the physical reaction. In the brain, the mild stress of exercise fortifies the infrastructure of our nerve cells by activating genes to produce certain proteins that protect the cells against damage and disease.” Spark (p. 71). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

exercise for stress relief

Most likely you are runner who uses the sport in order to relieve stress and refresh yourself. Don’t be afraid to say, “Life is hard and running helps me along the way.”


So lace up those running shoes and hit the road because running can be your stress relief.

Shelly Binsfeld

Running Coach in Minnesota

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