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Five Ways Marathons Can Improve Your Mental Health

Running a marathon is a dream for most people. And those who do it, call it a positive and healthy addiction. Something that keeps them going and something they look forward to often doing. Doctors and fitness experts consider marathons to be one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. And why not? Running a marathon is an endurance test for your body.

You will have to have more than the determination to do it. Regular practice and workout are necessary, and that will strengthen your body and muscles. No wonder all the marathon runners look strong and fit even in their old age.

Research suggests that the faster you run, the better your respiratory system functions, and thus boosts your lung capacity. It improves your metabolism and boosts immunity too. So, there’s a lot of reasons to start running and aspire to participate in a marathon. However, if these don’t seem like reasons that are good enough to motivate you, did you know that running also boosts your mental health? Yes, marathon runners have great mental health too. Here are a few reasons why:

Reduces Stress

When you run, your body releases chemicals that help you calm and reduce anxiety. It helps your brain channel all the energy in your body in the right direction, thus enabling a great coping mechanism at the time of stress. Besides that, running also increases the concentration of norepinephrine in your body.

This is the hormone that drives the stress response in your body. When you often run, be it on a treadmill or a marathon, you get better at handling stress. You have a calmer mind and are less likely to face the negative impacts of stress.

Remember the last time you were angry or upset? What did you end up doing? Did you punch a hole in the wall or binge-watching a movie series while coiling yourself up on the couch? Both these approaches probably ended up making you feel worse. The next time you’re feeling a little off, try going for a run and see how it lifts your spirits. The blood rushing through your veins will revive your spirits for sure!

Boosts Memory

Running in the park every day is sure to give you your daily dose of Vitamin D, which is important in treating depression. Besides that, running a marathon will also strengthen the cardiovascular system in your body. This is turn pumps in more blood to your brain, promotes the creation of new brain cells, and thereby the power of your brain. In short, it boosts memory, learning, and decision making as it provides your body with the brain-derived protein.

Several studies suggest that running lights up the frontal cortex in a person’s brain. This part is linked to decision making, memory, and learning, all of which increase when you run. You are more likely to develop an objective thought process when you run every day as compared to those who occasionally or never exercise. Isn’t that one more amazing reason to sign up and start training for a marathon?

Slows Cognitive Degeneration

As we age, our brain functioning slows down. Alzheimer’s and dementia are common age-related cognitive problems that people face. But did you know that around 4% of deaths in the US in 2014 were from dementia? Well, the numbers are alarming. However, sadly, there’s not much in terms of a cure for these disorders that’s available.

While running cannot treat or cure Alzheimer’s, it can surely reduce the risks of a person developing one. Cognitive degeneration usually begins around the age of 45, to prevent it, if you start working out regularly from the age of 25, you can slow down the process. Running slows cell degeneration of the cells in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory.

Boosts Creative Thinking

When your heart’s pumping and working to it’s fullest, it boosts your creativity. So, if you lack motivation or creativity to finish a particular task, pick up your boost, and start running. As you pick up the pace and your legs get moving, the creative juices start flowing. You might not have the time to run a marathon every week or month to find motivation. You could just run for a few blocks every day to stay physically and mentally fit!

We hope these are ample reasons for you to start running and prepare yourself for the next big marathon in town!

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