Runners seem to have discovered the magic bullet for improving mental health and wellbeing according to recent findings published by England Athletics. The stress-busting release of the 'feel-good' endorphins experienced through running has long been recognised but the added benefits of running in a group have only just been established.
Research released this month reveals improvements in emotional health and wellbeing are being experienced by an extraordinary three-quarters of runners. In the first major poll of its kind, involving 13,200 runners over 12 months, 74% said they felt running was good for their mental wellbeing. An additional survey of the England Athletics’ RunTogether community revealed that a staggering 89% of runners felt increased happiness as a direct result of running with others or in a group.
Running in groups brings other benefits. The poll showed that group runners were more likely to be regular runners (62%) when compared to solo runners (51%). The rapid growth in running groups across the country is significant for England Athletics as it works towards its goal of getting one million people into athletics and running by 2021. There’s also been a big increase in the number of people becoming Run Leaders, with over 3,000 people a year taking England Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) qualification.
“Physical exercise improves a person’s well-being by releasing endorphins, the body’s ‘feel good’ hormones. Studies show that in mild to moderate depression patients who exercise regularly do as well as those prescribed antidepressant medications or talking therapies.” said Dr Averil McClelland, GP and elite Masters Athlete.
Commenting on the findings, Matt Birkett, Head of Participation at England Athletics, said: “At a time when mental health is a such key concern for society, it’s great to formally acknowledge that something as simple as running with others can make such a significant difference to happiness and emotional wellbeing”.
It seems that running with others helps take our minds off our own issues and we benefit from sharing our time, commitment, energy and achievements with other people. So run yourself happy! You may just have discovered the miracle cure for the stress, anxiety and depression that bedevils modern society.
Image courtesy England Athletics