Why Running and Exercise Help Depression | My No-Guilt Life | My No-Guilt Life

Why Running and Exercise Help Depression



I mentioned in my post last week that I “needed” to exercise.  It makes me feel good, and it makes me a much more pleasant person to be around.  I have my moments where the simple fact of the matter is I need to move my body in order to clear my head.  While I haven’t been diagnosed with depression, I often wonder if that might change if I was unable to exercise.   It makes that much of a difference for me mentally.  Apparently, I am not alone.


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I found this infographic from HealthPerch and felt it explained so much!

Look at one of those first statistics: women are 70% more likely to be affected by depression.  I get it.  I’m guessing most women do, especially if they are juggling relationships and children, households and jobs.  Or lacking those things in your life can cause stress and depression.  It all adds up and can be overwhelming.

If you, like me, find yourself struggling some days maybe it’s time to take a walk.  Research shows people that walk 3 miles an hour have the least amount of depression.  Feeling blue?  Go for a walk!  I used to spend my 15-minute breaks at work walking around the outside of my building.  It made a world of difference in my demeanor.



I also found it interesting that there’s a magic number.  2-4 hours a week is great; anything over 7.5 hours is no bueno. In other words: you do not have to be running ultras to see benefits in your mental health from exercise.  You don’t have to go long, hard, or fast:  you just need to go.

I’m a believer.  I know it’s made a huge difference in my life and strive to get 30-40 minutes of endorphins and neurotransmitters flowing every day.  My family can tell when I haven’t made that goal.  Especially if it happens a few days in a row.  Oh Boy, Oh Boy- it’s not pretty when that happens.

If you need help getting started, here are 5 ways to make exercise a habit that I think will help you get moving!


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What do you think about Running & Exercise?  Do you see an improvement in your mental health when you get your exercise on?  Here’s your chance to link-up with us!

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  • Pam says:

    I’m not sure about the increase in depression and anxiety if you exercise over 7.5 miles per week. During marathon/ Dopey Challenge/Goofy Challenge training cycles, I am pretty sure I was over that magic number several times. I never had side effects other than worry about finishing those darn challenges!

    • patty says:

      The number seemed low to me as well. I’m guessing it’s the idea that for many people when they push over 7.5 hours they are doing extreme levels of working out, not necessarily training like you were. Though I could see how the last few long runs would actually have a negative side affect on me personally when marathon training. LOL I’m mentally weak like that. 😉

  • Couldn’t agree more with this post! Running/workouts/being outside in general just help put a smile on my face! It’s hard to be sad when you are breaking a sweat. Reminds me of a quote I have seen many times before… “running…cheaper than therapy”!

  • DIStherapy says:

    You are on to something Patty. The reason I began running was to offer my son an alternative to depression medications. It didn’t “take” with him, but helped keep ME same during his illness. Every psychiatrist/psychologist we have seen has encouraged him to try again. I’ll get him happy and running through that castle yet!

  • Laura says:

    Great blog, I totally agree. I am always giving this information to my patients and hopefully they follow it. I can always tell the ones that do. Their cholesterol, blood pressure, depression and blood sugar all improve with exercise.
    Now, I do run more than 7.5 hours a week, but we all know I’m a special kind of crazy! And between Sparkle Skirts, Ink N Burn tops and RunDisney races, it definitely is getting expensive!

    • patty says:

      That’s good to hear- I know it’s doing things physically for me, but I rely on it more for the mental help it provides. And yep, expensive is right! Ouch!

  • Alyson says:

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s been over 3 weeks since I’ve run due to an injury, and now I’m looking at a possible (hoping not, but possible) MAJOR knee surgery which would put me out a minimum of 6 months. I’ve talked to a lot of my fitness friends (runners and general fitness buffs) and they all can see a bit of depression setting in. Oh…and let’s not forget the depression that goes along with that number on the scale!!! 🙂 Great post!

  • You KNOW I’m a believer in this. Great post. Running has most definitely saved my mental health. No question.
    Jennifer Lefforge recently posted…I’m FINALLY Embracing Cross Training!My Profile

  • Great post. I know when I can’t or don’t workout/run that I become a hot mess. My mood just tanks and I get pretty unhappy. A good reminder of why to keep at it!
    April at RunTheGreatWideSomewhere recently posted…Race Timing: Bibs & ChipsMy Profile

  • Jennifer says:

    I completely and totally agree with this post. Getting outside to move (running, walking, some combo of the two) is a sincere high point of my day. My big bonus is that it often brings clarity when I’ve got a nagging issue or concern.

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Patty Holliday

Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.

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