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I took up running during the pandemic. Here’s how it improved my mental health

Published on:7 January 2021, 12:13pm IST
Running isn’t just great for your physical health, but can also have a positive impact on your mental health.
Grace Bains
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Running works well for both our physical and mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The year 2020 has changed us so much, mostly because of coronavirus. I wouldn’t say I was always a fitness enthusiast. In fact, I was far from being one, but this pandemic made me reevaluate everything. Much like everyone else, I hoarded vitamin C tablets and searched for kadha recipes to boost my immunity. It was, however, always clear to me that good nutrition needs to be supplemented with regular exercise to improve health.

This pandemic reinforced my belief that our health isn’t something that can change overnight. It changes over time and it’s in our hands to ensure it is improving, instead of deteriorating. Our body requires regular physical activity to stay healthy, and that was definitely missing from my life. It is certainly difficult to make time for fitness in the midst of work, adulting and keeping up with our social lives.

So, I decided to use this pandemic to look into my workout routine. Honestly, I was absolutely new to the concept of exercising and wanted to start with something simple. Hence, I decided to start my journey of physical fitness with running. You see, running has multiple benefits for our health. In fact, research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology observed that even low-intensity running can extend one’s lifespan.

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A little activity will go a long way. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
After the first day of running, I discovered two things:

i) It isn’t as simple as I thought it would be

ii) My fitness levels were way lower than I had thought, and definitely needed attention.

Over the course of a month, I made running a part of my routine. I would go either in the morning or evenings. I downloaded an app to count my steps, and the distance I was running. After some time, I even managed to make the perfect playlist for my running time.

After months of running regularly, what I’ve realised is that it hasn’t just done wonders for my physical fitness, but also my mental health. Not only did it help to combat the mental stress caused by the pandemic and the instability it brought along, but running has also helped me in some other ways:

i) Find a sense of routine.

ii) Inculcated a sense of achievement with every personal record I’ve broken! This is something that has built my confidence, and helped me in other areas of life as well.

iii) It has motivated me by making me believe that you can reach your goals, if you keep working hard every day, in spite of the hurdles.

iv) It allows me to gather my thoughts and check-in with myself on my emotional health.

I’m not the only one who believes that running has both mental and physical health benefits. A study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry noted that running for as little as 15 minutes every day can reduce the risk of developing depression.

Running might have started as an attempt to boost my health amid the pandemic, but it is definitely something that will continue to be a part of my routine in the long run!

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.