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The physical benefits of running are evident and have been well documented. If you want to lose weight, hit the treadmill – it’s simple. 

If you want to increase your cardio endurance, do a series of sprints. 
 
But that's not all there is to the sport, and many people choose to run for its psychological perks too. In fact, a study conducted by the Sport Ireland Institute shows that people run more for their mental health than to simply “be out in the fresh air”. After all, running is the perfect way to destress and let off some steam — providing a welcome distraction from the tension of everyday life. 
 
Decreases Signs of Depression 
 
Depression is something that many Americans suffer from. And while running is not the be-all and end-all cure, it can help decrease its symptoms and give sufferers a much-needed mood booster. In research from Concordia University, it was found that patients who performed regular aerobic exercises, like jogging or brisk walking, ended up minimizing their risk of developing psychological problems. This can be credited to exercise's ability to produce endorphins, clearing your head, and relieving stress. 
 
Improves Self-esteem 
 
Besides helping you reach your fitness goals, running can give you more overall confidence as well. Though there is no scientific formula for how much or how often you need to exercise to improve your self-esteem, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck says that people who genuinely believe they can improve as runners are far more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Runners, especially endurance runners, need to strive to improve on a daily basis. How else can they stay motivated to run for hours on end? Aiming to beat your previous records and then attaining new personal bests can do wonders for your self-esteem. 
 
Betters Sleep 
 
For some, a moderate run—that is, around two or more hours—can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, and is especially helpful for people with insomnia. This is because running triggers an increase in body temperature, so when your body temperature drops back to normal after a few hours, it signals the body that it's time to sleep. With the right timing and intensity, running can even help you regulate your circadian rhythm or body clock. 
 
Supports Cognitive Function 
 
Running and other endurance exercises are known to supercharge the brain, and that can improve its thinking capabilities and support memory retention. Fitness trainer Michael Mackin explains that running releases a hormone called irisin, which is known to promote cognitive development in the brain. Further research from Maryville University supports this theory, stating that mental health and learning development go hand in hand. So because running is good for mental health, it means it that can assist with learning too. 
 
Trains Focus and Efficiency 
 
Having a hard time focusing? Try jogging for a bit to keep your mind pumping. World-renowned novelist Haruki Murakami compared writing a novel to survival training, as it also requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. True enough, Murakami claims that his own daily schedule involves going on a 10km run alongside hours of writing, and it’s this writing-running repetition that allows him to reach a “deeper state of mind” and complete his work. 
 
The first thing any athlete or fitness enthusiast works on is physical strength, but the best athletes know that it’s just as important to train the mind. Luckily, running can help you do both. 

Article exclusively written for runohio.com 

by Jarah Broc 

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