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THE SCIENCE BEHIND RUNNING AND MENTAL HEALTH

YOU KNOW THAT RUNNING IS GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING, BUT NOT SURE HOW OR WHY EXACTLY? DR JULIET MCGRATTAN SORTS FACT FROM FICTION

MENTAL HEALTH

Many runners, myself included, start running to get fit and help control their weight. If you ask those runners years later why they run, I guarantee the majority will say it”s because it boosts their mental health. Once you discover how effective running can be for clearing the mind – and how it can help you think clearly, calm down and stay well balanced – it”s hard to imagine how you ever got through life without it!

My experience of this is one of the reasons I”m so evangelical about exercise for mental wellbeing with the patients I see in my GP surgery. However, most importantly, there is a solid evidence base to prove it. According to Start Active, Stay Active, a report on physical activity for health from the four home countries” chief medical officers, exercising regularly throughout your life will give you a 20 to 30 per cent lower risk of depression. Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and to have a role in the treatment of anxiety disorders, too. In fact, it helps across the whole spectrum of mental health. So whether we just feel a bit tense or have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, exercise is medicine – for now and for our future.

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About Women’s Running

Discover the healing power of running with the March issue of Women’s Running, on sale 25 January. Find out how running can help treat depressive disorders, clear the mind and manage stressful life situations. And hear from women who have experienced these benefits for themselves, such as cover star Charlie Watson, who shares how running – and blogging – has helped her to manage stress and anxiety. Keen to start running but daunted by the prospect of having to run for miles without a break? Discover Jeff Galloway’s hugely successful Run Walk Run training method, which has helped thousands to start running, stay injury free and even qualify for the Boston Marathon. We’ve got all things marathon training covered in this issue, too. You’ll find three 12-week training plans for beginner, intermediate and experienced marathoners, as well as expert advice on getting marathon fit on reduced mileage. Plus, don’t miss our recipes for delicious, homemade fuelling snacks or our leg-focused strength-training workout, both supporting your stamina and strength, whatever your training goals.