Aerobic exercises such as running, even jogging, dancing, and swimming, trigger the release of endorphins, popularly referred to as happy hormones, and monoamines, the neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in arousal, emotion, and cognition, and thus improve mood and combat anxiety and depression.7  Exercise also reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.8. Next, what utterly terrified me was having to brave the unknown of that realm outside my front door. How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy? Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. 3 (1984): 361-378. When you run, your body takes your brain along for the ride. Running has given me a new identity, one that no longer sees danger and fear first. I’d never done strenuous exercise before. Here are various ways running helps alleviate anxiety: Got a fear of elevators, open spaces, or even lavatory cisterns? You can do so much more when those things don’t sit on your chest and slowly squash you. I had a family who, while not fully understanding why their daughter was crying hysterically all the time and refusing to go out, had the resources to pay for me to see a professional. Not to my usual taste, but the lyrics were suitably angry and I didn’t want anything that might make me cry (everything was making me cry). Nobody even looked at me. It’s a measure of how over the whole “starter marriage” I am that I sat across from my boyfriend at dinner last year and proposed to him (he said yes, thank the Lord). How could it be, when hearing the suggestion of running made my mind spiral? Petruzzello, Steven J., Daniel M. Landers, Brad D. Hatfield, Karla A. Kubitz, and Walter Salazar. I remember missing my bus stop in the mornings many times because I hadn’t blinked in the correct way. More importantly, at the beginning, they made my brain concentrate on something other than worry. Running puts everyone in a better mood. The experiment helped diminish their anxiety.4, In another study, patients with a phobia of high-level lavatory cisterns were treated in the same way and were made to enter a situation they usually feared after running vigorously till the limit of their toleration. As I lay on the floor of my own sitting room, watching my husband’s feet walking quickly towards the door, I knew that the end of my marriage, after less than a year, would bring unbearable sadness, awkward questions, terrible embarrassment. Anxiety. But I also knew something else: at 29, unlike most adults, I had no coping skills. Anxious even as a very small child, I had let my worries fester, take control, and dominate my life. (As an aside, this was strangely effective and I would recommend it to anyone needing to feel strong. Not a life wasted by any means, but a life limited. A few seconds, shuffle, stop. Isn’t that interesting? I crossed another bridge, intoxicated by the sunshine on my skin, and I ran into Parliament Square, thronging with tourists and vendors and honking cars. Run that road until you feel confident you can go to the next one. It’s a strange and awful experience. It was already 25’C at the river, and I wasn’t sure if running for two sets of 10 minutes (Week 6, session 2) in this heat was going to work – but I’d apparently made up my mind, because when Jo Whiley’s voice told me to run, I JUST BLOODY RAN. Or, “you’ve just got into a good groove with your work – if you leave now you’ll lose momentum!”. These are giant steps in the right direction. Whereas before I’d been looking for excuses to not go outside, now I watch the clock as my favoured running time approaches. At the end of the study, it was found that the running group had a significant reduction in depression and anxiety compared with the corrective therapy group.1 Here’s how running helps cure depression. So to find something that breaks you free of this can feel miraculous. If it wasn’t blinking, it was avoiding cracks in the pavement — small things that paralysed me. You usually run in the early evenings and that won’t happen, there’ll be parties to go to. Thinking them won’t make them happen. Yet when Dad died, all thought of exercise went out of the window. You notice your heartbeat, the sweat dripping into your ears, the way your torso twists as you stride. With my headphones in, I settled on a song called She (Expletive) Hates Me by a band called Puddle Of Mudd. It will inhibit your anxiety reaction. Bam. The relief this gave me was immense. But for some of us, our miles are key to managing depression and anxiety. I hated PE at school; never found a team sport I particularly enjoyed; I’m perpetually terrified of cycling on London’s roads; and although I eventually discovered yoga, the benefits of my practice never quite resonated in the way I hoped it would. Hopefully in a month’s time I’ll be ready for it. I could just about manage the runs, but I wasn’t enjoying them. In an animal study conducted to explain the anxiety-reducing effect of exercise, the researchers gave a group of mice unlimited access to a running wheel and no wheel to the control group. Wait. Orwin, Arnold. I even track my route on Strava. She was then made to ride an elevator. There’s the complete mental and physical exhaustion, for a start, as well as the sudden emotion which comes on suddenly from nowhere – but grief can also have a huge effect on your sense of self-confidence. For the last two months I’ve gone for a run every few days. A colleague lifts weights, and one friend boxes because he feels far too angry and it helps keep those thoughts under control. Instead, I have to learn techniques to keep it in check. I felt delirious. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I began my CBT sessions I also started the Couch to 5k app again.