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Running is My Therapy: The Mental Benefits of Exercise

Posted by George Parker on

Anima sana in corpore sano translates to “a healthy soul in a healthy body.” The Latin phrase is also the acronym for the running shoe brand ASICS. Greek philosopher Plato made a similar point: "The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.”

I talk plenty about the physical benefits of running in these pages, but what about the mental benefits? Author Scott Douglas dives into this topic in his book Running is My Therapy, subtitled Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier.

Running re-wires your brain. It empowers and instills a sense of control, which research has shown combats depression and low self-esteem.  Running helps inoculate you against anxiety by continually placing you in uncomfortable situations in training and racing. “It gives you ample opportunity to employ the skills necessary to abate negative self-talk, confront the fear of body symptoms (racing heart, feelings of fatigue, etc.), and enjoy the moment.” Running reinforces executive function skills: mindfulness, discipline, and mental fortitude.

Running will make you a stronger person, both physically and mentally. You will gain the strength to run faster, longer, and more substantial, along with the resiliency and fortitude to confront challenges and unknown obstacles. Which is more important? Not even Plato could figure it out.

Carpe Diem.

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