You may be adept at running at the local track or in your neighborhood. However, there’s a whole other world to discover when it comes to running locations. Trail running is the process of expertly sprinting up hills and meandering around natural obstacles. There are obvious physical benefits to trail running. It’s time to focus on the mental aspect. Learn all about the top 5 mental health benefits of trail running. Your exercise plans might change this weekend.
1. Reducing Anxiety
The human body was built to walk and run. This skill makes us highly efficient at moving around on solid ground. Apply this concept to trail running. At a healthy pace, drive your legs forward as you gain elevation. Look around at your surroundings. The trees, sky and other natural wonders are mentally stimulating.
As a result, your mind is taken away from the ordinary. Stress and anxiety fall away from your brain. The only concentration is on the trail challenge ahead. It’s almost impossible to take the mind off of a worry when your everyday surroundings are in play. Nature gives you a better perspective even if you aren’t solving the problem outright.
2. Coaxing Extra Oxygen into the Brain
As you exercise, the body starts to breathe faster. You take in as much oxygen as possible. The body allocates the oxygen to core organs, such as your muscles and brain. In fact, your brain is one of the major organs that receives the most oxygen.
Oxygen at the brain level keeps the neurons healthy. These cells must remain oxygenated from the pumping blood to give you a long life. Your mental health improves as a result of this physiological reaction too. Mental decline is often associated with physiological problems, including brain damage.
You might argue that sidewalk running produces the same oxygenated effects on the body. Remember that the scenery around you during a trail run is formed from nature and not urban sprawl. The trees and surrounding plants offer extra oxygen as they transpire. It’s a fact that there’s technically more available oxygen within a forest than the city.
Cognitive decline is also associated with depression. It’s been proven again and again that exercise, especially in its intense forms, will help you fight off depression.
3. Increasing Good Hormones
Life has its good and bad times. There’s no escaping that reality. As you move through your trail-running routine, a rush of beneficial hormones occurs. Your body rewards you for the physical exercise by producing hormones from your glands. They’re responsible for that runner’s high and other good feelings during movement.
By increasing good hormones in your body, you have an overwhelming sense of positivity. It doesn’t disappear right after the activity either. In fact, you might feel relaxed and ready to take on life’s challenges for the rest of the day. Human hormones are powerful, chemical responses that benefit the mind.
4. Encouraging Problem Solving
You probably took dozens of tests as a child and teenager. As a result, problem solving was part of your daily habits. Adults problem solve, but not typically at this intense rate. Trail running provides the mental challenges of problem solving to train the mind. You must figure out the right path for a healthy gait and how fast to take it.
Problem solving stimulates the mind so that new connections can be made. Games and exercise have been proven to fight off cognitive decline in adults. Use trail running as a way to jog the mind and body.
5. Building Confidence
Everyone questions themselves at some point in life. Being confident isn’t an automatic trait in every person. It must often be built from experiences in life. By participating in trail running, you’re climbing an incline or outright hill. There’s a visible goal ahead. By reaching the summit or other stopping point, you build self-confidence in yourself. You’re literally climbing a mountain. Everything else in life may seem simple in comparison.
Building confidence in yourself equates to self-love and self-esteem. Your mental health depends on a solid perspective of your well-being. Without self-love, everything in life seems a bit harder than it should be.
The key to staying healthy on both mental and physical levels is consistency. Exercising must be a frequent visitor to your day. Strive for four to five days of physical activity each week. Try trail running on at least one of those days. You’ll feel the difference in your mind and body almost immediately.
Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for RightFit Personal Training. She often produces content for a variety of fitness blogs.