I Jog for My Mental Health and You Should Too

How to Get into Jogging to Relieve Anxiety and Depression

Isioma Ononye
Black Bear
6 min readMay 30, 2024

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Image Provided by the Author

When you pick up your feet to run; suddenly the nerves begin to calm.

Soon, you feel a rush of energy and so you go faster and all your worries and fears start to disappear.

Life feels better. Lighter. There is joy right now and so you keep running.

Exercise has always been a part of my life.

It started with school and participating in sports activities as a child.

I played a little basketball in elementary school.

In junior high, after classes were over, I would race with classmates for fun. Then in highschool, I finally took some swimming lessons.

I had goggles and kickboards but never felt that comfortable in the water for I feared I would drown.

Then it was when I entered college that I started to rekindle the fun I had for running.

I started exercising in college because I had many thoughts and worries about my future and I needed some form of release. I thought I could do track but that wasn’t for me so I decided to go to the gym. I got on the treadmill and it was such a great feeling. Then after college, I decided I wanted to run outside and it felt better. Since then, I’ve endeavoured to make exercise a part of my life and it’s helped me greatly in my mental health.

If you want to start exercising, specifically jogging for your mental health, here is how to get into it.

Consider the Benefits of a Jog to Get Into the Habit

What has kept me jogging after college is the fact that it’s had a positive effect on my mental health.

I always find myself feeling happier after a jog because a jog is what’s needed to clear my head. It’s also what’s needed to boost my mood.

As for the connection between exercise and a boost to your mood, it has been scientifically proven.

In the National Library of Medicine, in a report published by Elizabeth Anderson and Geetha Shivakumar, they discuss the “Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety.”

In the article, the authors write that “the endorphin hypothesis posits that the mood elevations and reduced anxiety following acute exercise is due to the release and binding of β-endorphins (endogenous opioids) to their receptor sites in the brain. Studies demonstrate that exercise increases endogenous opioid activity in the central and peripheral nervous system and may induce a euphoric state and reduce pain.”

Therefore, one of the best ways to get into the habit of exercise is to let yourself be aware of all the benefits it will have on improving your mood.

This is especially true for people like myself who struggle with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Get In the Right Environment to Have a Run

While on a jog, I stop to stare at the ocean because it takes me to a tranquil state. I then take a sigh of relief and continue walking. The nature around me makes me feel at peace and calm.

Another way to get into the habit of jogging and going for runs or even walks is to get in the right environment for a jog. To have a run.

In college, I started making use of the gym but after college, I realised I enjoyed going for jogs out in parks.

There was a difference between running on the treadmill versus running outside in the park. This is because the environment of nature is pleasing to me. I’m more eager to go for a jog outside because I like being in nature. I like being around trees and the ocean and I realise it’s been another form of mood booster for me.

In Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence, the authors state that exposure to natural environments has been linked with decreases in anxiety and rumination, which are associated with negative mental health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety.

In their report, a study evaluated a wetland NBI in Gloucestershire, UK that was designed to facilitate engagement with nature as a treatment for individuals diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

The study found that the wetland site provided a sense of escape from participants’ everyday environments, facilitating relaxation and a reduction in stress.

If you’re not someone who likes to go to the gym, then consider where the best environment for you to exercise would be.

I’d recommend you go for a jog and walk where there is nature around you because the scenery boosts your mood and also enables you to enjoy your walk more.

Have a Form of Music to Make Your Jog Fun

When my favourite song comes on, I immediately feel that rush to go faster as the music is making me feel invincible. Therefore, another way to get into the habit of jogging is to have music around you to get you more excited to move.

That is why I have a playlist for my workouts.

As for my song choice, I make it a habit to listen to mostly gospel music for my runs and I enjoy it but I also like a little bit of everything from classical music to R&B, Hip Hop, Classic Rock and Reggae.

Your taste in music might be different from mine and that’s okay.

Whichever type of music you prefer, I’d recommend you curate a workout playlist for yourself. That way, when you go for a run, you’ve got some great tunes that would serve as music therapy for you to get you motivated while you get your body moving.

Pick Out Workout Wear that Makes You Feel Good

To get in the habit of going for jogs for your mental health, you should pick out workout wear that makes you look and feel good.

Picking out workout wear I like is what enables me to prepare myself for my run the following day.

I bring out my sneakers and workout clothes and I know that seeing such clothes is what would encourage me to exercise.

Also, as for my workout clothes, my workout wear makes me feel comfortable and happy.

I like to work out in clothes I can move freely in and sometimes, something colourful because bright colours boost my mood.

When I put on bright colours to exercise such as Pink, Red or Purple, then I find myself feeling happier and looking forward to it.

This same tip could work for you too; have workout wear that will put you in a good mood.

Something that makes you feel comfortable.

Something that makes you feel good.

Something that makes you excited about that morning jog or walk.

Final Thoughts

On the days I feel sad or worried, I get my sneakers out, put on my workout clothes and I head to a nearby park.

I walk and then jog with sweet sounds playing in my ears.

I jog for my mental health and it’s helped me.

As I jog, I’ve noticed that the thirty-minute run is just the right pick-me-up that I need to get myself feeling happier and more motivated about life.

As for you, if you’ve found yourself in a low mood and feeling sad and worried about life, then get up, step outside and move a little.

Go for a walk.

Take a moment to bask in the sun and admire the beauty of God’s creations.

Then please remind yourself as you take a deep breath that everything will be alright.

References

Elizabeth Anderson, Geetha Shivakumar, 2013. National Center for Biotechnology Information, accessed 10 May 2024,

< https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/>.

Paul B. Tchounwou, 2021. National Center for Biotechnology Information, accessed 09 May 2024, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8125471/>.

Kirstein Weir, 2020. American Psychological Association, accessed 09 May 2024, <https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature>.

Lorrie Kubicek, 2022. Harvard Health Publishing, accessed 10 May 2024 <https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-music-improve-our-health-and-quality-of-life-202207252786>.

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Isioma Ononye
Black Bear

👩‍💻I write about self-esteem, faith, mental health, women’s issues, social media & TV + Film Reviews. 📩Newsletter: https://substack.com/@isiomaononye