BY MF STAFF
Want to be happier, healthier and more relaxed? Put on the runners.
The distance running field is a diverse one; behind each runner is a different story of how they got to the start line and why they are challenging themselves to a 10km, half marathon or full 42.195km distance. For many it is a physical challenge: to get fitter, to have more energy to play with the kids or take advantage of the numerous other known health benefits of running like building stronger bones and muscles, help manage weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
The number of people running to improve their mental health, however, is increasing, and for good reason.
Bringing the connection between running and mental health even closer, the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon has teamed up with mental health crusaders LIVIN to encourage people to engage in a conversation about mental health. The Gold Coast charity provides early education programs in schools around Australia to promote wellness and positive living for young people.
LIVIN’s motto is “It ain’t weak to speak” and the charity has achieved significant success selling a range of branded apparel designed to start conversations about mental health and also to generate proceeds to fund these school programs.
LIVIN psychologist Luke Foster shares with us five ways running can positively benefit mental health and how we can literally run ourselves into a better state of mind:
- Running promotes all kinds of changes in the brain. It stimulates the release of chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel warm and fuzzy. It can lead to neural growth and new activity patterns in the brain that promote feelings of calm and reduce inflammation. Running, it seems, is literally a positive ‘brain changer’.
- Running can often be a shared activity which gives you an opportunity to interact with others and reap the benefits of social support. Interacting with others has been shown to promote the release of feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine.
- Running can help to release muscular and skeletal tension, often leaving you feeling more relaxed. Your morning or afternoon jog can also help you sleep better and create better sleep habits to leave you feeling more energised and keep your moods regulated more effectively.
- Running towards a certain goal, like completing a marathon gives you a sense of accomplishment. Add to that the positive effect on your self-esteem as your fitness and physique improves the closer you get to reaching your goal and running can give you a real dose of feel-good energy.
- Running can reduce the effects of stress. Heading out for a gentle run after a stressful experience lowers cortisol levels (or the stress hormone in the brain) and can expedite a return to baseline. Running allows you time to ruminate which fast-tracks turning off your body’s stress responses.
While improving their own mental health, participants of one of the eight races on offer at the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon can contribute to the well-being of others by raising money for LIVIN through fundraising platform everyday hero.
Renowned for its flat, fast and scenic course alongside the famous surfing beaches and broadwater of the Gold Coast, the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon is the ideal setting for getting that runner’s high whilst soaking up the beautiful Queensland winter sunshine.
For more details, visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au