7 Reasons Running Makes You Happy

Sure, it’s not the most fun thing in the world to wake up at the crack of dawn to go running, but once you actually drag yourself out of bed, put your running shoes on, and get going, something changes in you. You feel so much happier. Why is that?

Running makes you happy in the following proven ways:

  • You get more endorphins, the feel-good hormone
  • You can create and strengthen social connections through running
  • Setting your goals and then meeting them is a great feeling
  • You can relieve stress by running
  • You’re getting fitter each time you run, making for a healthier, happier you
  • You feel better and more confident in yourself after running for a while 
  • Running is fun

In this article, we’ll elaborate more on the top 7 reasons why running is such an enjoyable hobby for so many people. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll certainly feel inclined to tie on your running shoes and get motoring!

7 Reasons to Run More Often

More Endorphins

When you get that promotion at work or you have a great first date with your crush, have you ever wondered what specifically is making you happy? Your mood stems from a hormone known as an endorphin.

A type of endogenous opioid neuropeptide, an endorphin triggers your brain’s opiate receptor to lessen pain and boost your mood. Endorphins are not only the feel-good hormone then, but a natural pain reliever as well!

Have you ever heard of the runner’s high? Named after runners because it takes long periods of physical activity to reach, a runner’s high reduces pain and anxiety while heightening euphoria. In other words, it’s the release of endorphins that puts you in such a phenomenal mood.

Your runner’s high might not necessarily last very long, but when it happens, it feels so fantastic. You’ll want to feel that high again and again, which will incentivize you to get out and run more often, even on those days when you don’t necessarily feel like it. 

Better Social Connections

Another reason to take up running is to improve the social connections you have and create new ones. 

Your running route is sure to put you into contact with some people. Maybe it’s your neighbors across the street when you first set out. Then, you run through your neighborhood’s downtown, where you’ll see businesspeople, shopkeepers, and other residents in your neck of the woods. If you pass through a park, you’ll undoubtedly come across people walking their dogs, cyclists, and other runners such as yourself.

Some of these people, although strangers, might say hello or wish you a good morning. You’ll do the same and smile because of the nice moment. 

If you take the same route every day and you see another runner doing the same, you might strike up a conversation with them. Before you know it, you’ve found a running buddy.

When the day comes that you start participating in smaller races, half-marathons, and even full marathons, you’ll be surrounded by lots of runners. You can befriend some and find a new running group to jog with, taking you to new parts of your neighborhood or abridging cities and towns that you may not have yet explored.

The friends you make running are cherished friendships. You can also strengthen the bonds you already have with people in your life through running. Perhaps you invite a few friends to go running with you, or you ask your spouse or sibling to come with you for a leisurely jog. They do it a few times and fall in love with the runner’s high as well. Now you have another reliable running partner to jog with. 

A Harvard Health report about the importance of social relationships mentions a study that involved 309,000 participants. The participants that didn’t have strong social connections were at a 50 percent higher chance of suffering a premature death. That makes social isolation more dangerous than obesity and on par with the rate of death if you smoked 15 cigarettes every day.

Harvard Health also underscored the correlation between a longer life, better health, and more happiness through social connections. It doesn’t matter if these connections are among friends or family. When you have good people in your life, you’re happier, and you’re around longer to enjoy that happiness. 

Setting and Meeting Goals

What kind of goals do you have in life? This is a question that may be asked of you from time to time, and it’s not always easy to answer. Perhaps you want to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder, settle down and start a family, or save up for a car. 

No matter what your dreams or aspirations, setting goals is a good way to get there. For example, if you wanted to buy a car, you’d budget every week, putting aside small amounts of money. With time, you’d have the cash you need for the vehicle.

This 2020 article from Positive Psychology mentions that goals are incredibly important in day-to-day life. By setting goals, we’re motivated to carry out whatever is necessary to complete the goals. This can encourage us to think strategically and outside of our figurative box. 

If you achieve a goal, then the excitement and happiness that comes with it will further motivate you to keep setting more goals. Even if you fail, the frustration might make you rethink your approach so you can shoot for the stars next time. 

In running, you set goals all the time. If you’re brand new to running, your first goal might be to build your endurance and stamina enough to race in a 10k. This is 6.21 miles, so it’s not an easy race by far, at least not when you’re new to racing. 

Once you complete your first 10k race, you’ll feel spurred on to build up to the next longest race. Perhaps now you train for a half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. You’ll also eventually work your way to a marathon race, which is 26.2 miles or longer.

By this point, you might be ready to attempt a multi-day event, also known as a stage race. With a stage race, you tend to run off the beaten path, literally. You get the thrill of adventure along with running, which makes stage races very sought-after for more advanced runners.

Even if you happen to fail at any stage of the game when running, you can regroup, get support from your runners’ circle, and find out how to chase success even more efficiently next time.  

Relieving Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. Perhaps it’s your job that stresses you out, either because you don’t get along with your boss or you’re always swamped with so much to do. It could be family relationships that cause stress, lack of finances, or countless other factors.

Wherever your stress stems from, you may notice that all your worries seem to melt away when you’re running. You forget completely about that overdue rent bill or getting chewed out by your boss yesterday. All you feel is bliss.

It’s not just a coincidence that your stress lessens when you’re running. A 2018 article in Science Dailycites a study from Neurobiology of Learning and Memory that explored the link between running and reduced stress.

The study’s lead author, BYU associate professor of developmental biology and physiology Jeff Edwards, had this to say about the results: “Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress.” 

The journal also notes that running especially can do this. 

Chronic stress, which is long-term stress from a prolonged bad situation, produces stress hormones. These hormones damage the synapses in the hippocampus, a part of the brain in charge of memory recall and development. 

Through running and other physical activity, the brain undergoes long-term potentiation, which allows the synapses to rebuild after chronic stress damage. You may even notice your memory improves as the hippocampus is less impacted by the effects of chronic stress hormones.  

Getting Physically Fit

You love running for what it demands out of you, such as strength, endurance, and stamina. You may not have set out to lose weight when you first started running, yet that’s exactly what can happen if you stick with it. That’s especially true if you begin running in longer races like half-marathons and full marathons.

During a 5k race, which is 3.10 miles, each mile you run torches about 100 calories for 300 to 400 calories burnt overall. During a 10k, you could burn about 600 calories if you continue to shed 100 calories per mile. 

Once you graduate to racing in half marathons, you’re looking at huge amounts of calories burned, between 1,100 and 1,600 over the course of 13 miles. Full marathons can easily burn 2,600 calories if you complete the whole thing at a moderately even pace. 

While the number of calories you may burn when running can depend on your metabolism, how fast you run, your age, weight, and gender, you can see how runners can easily lose weight doing their favorite physical activity. You might find that the pounds drop off without you really trying to lose the weight.

A fitter, healthier you is one who’s undoubtedly going to be happy. You’ll easily be able to keep up with all your running friends, and you’ll find that checking off your running goals is incredibly easy. 

Boosting Confidence

The combination of the above factors, including weight loss, better fitness, more friends, meeting your goals, and feeling happier will all have another great consequence: you’ll begin to feel more confident in yourself. 

This confidence will extend to your non-running endeavors as well. You could walk into the boardroom and give an awesome presentation at work, play other sports exceptionally well, and just enjoy the higher self-esteem in every aspect of your life. 

People are attracted to confidence, so you might even notice that your social circle grows as well. You could have more running buddies than ever. 

Having Fun

Do you know the old saying that if you love what you do that you never work a day in your life? That’s how you feel about running. If you’re being honest, you don’t love waking up with achy legs, and the winter runs in the freezing temperatures and darkness aren’t your favorite either, but you thoroughly, wholeheartedly love running. 

You always look forward to your runs. They’re a great chance for you to empty your head, enjoy some “me” time, and see what your body can do. You sleep well after your runs because you expended so much energy. Plus, you have a blast when you’re running, be that on your own, with some friends, or during a competition. Even if you don’t win a race, you still enjoy the experience of having done it. 

Doing what you love is a great way to be happy, and you know that personally.

Final Thoughts

You can derive a lot of happiness from running for a multitude of reasons. Your brain produces endorphins that contribute to your runner’s high. As you make new friends through running, you’re happier, and the same is true when you begin meeting your running goals. Being healthier, building your confidence, and reducing your stress also contributes to your happiness.

Above all, you love running, and that alone is enough to make you happy. You know what to do now then. It’s time to get out there and run! 

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Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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