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Running for a Healthy Mind: Defeating Depression with Freeform Jogging

jogging for mental health and depression

Even individuals with sunny dispositions have their dark times. It is therefore not a stretch to imagine that people who suffer from depression go through excruciating intervals of suffering when their mood takes a nosedive. The root-causes of depression can be manifold: they can be genetic, stress-related, caused by an ailment, or even diet.

However you turn it, the bottom line remains the same – faulty mood regulation causes an inability to feel happiness. It takes all the air out of you like a prolonged, slow-motion punch that can last for months or years. Getting out of that rut is a feat of heroism, and physical exercise can do a lot of heavy-lifting for you. It might be hard to maintain a workout discipline during this tumultuous period, but soon enough, you’ll notice the mental benefits of running.

The third pillar

Therapy and medication are two fundamental pillars of treating depression. However, you can easily argue that physical activity represents a third pillar, which is emerging as a viable aid to recovery that the medical community recommends. If you suffer from depression, there is a good chance that your doctor will ‘prescribe’ some sort of physical activity for good measure, and running might be the best option, considering your situation. 

Keep comfort and safety in mind

Wearing comfortable attire may help you to get motivated, so you should look for footwear that will make you feel as if you are walking on clouds. Keep in mind that you may need to push yourself in order to achieve results and reap the cognitive benefits. This means that you will want to make your jogging intervals a bit longer and more intense with every session, if you can.

There’s nothing wrong with finding the motivation in little things. If comfortable, good-looking clothes will make you get up from your couch and do some running, then go for it.

Jogging is freeform

While sticking to a structured daily routine can be beneficial for depressed individuals, it would be unfair to expect ironclad discipline. Episodes of depression are filled with drastic drops in energy and will, so it might be more realistic to take up running instead of organized sports or gym programs. The ultimate selling point of running is that it is freeform.

You do not have to adhere to any schedule and you are not obliged to jog for a specific length of time. Other individuals, such as teammates and partners, do not rely on your performance, which takes the pressure off you. Plus, you are the one who dictates the intensity and length of a running session. These factors make running an excellent choice of a physical activity for people with depression.

The frame of mind: a constant struggle

Epidemiological data and reliable studies show that there is a definite correlation between physical exercise and better mental health, which includes relief from symptoms of depression. Just don’t fall into the trap of believing that everything gets fixed once you begin feeling the first results. Reaching such a milestone can be an intoxicating feeling, especially if you are prone to depression, but it can be a double-edged sword.

Remember that running does not cure depression. You are just ‘pushing back’ against the tidal wave of gloom. The stronger you get (in every conceivable way), the better you will become at holding it off. The frame of mind that you should adopt is one of constant struggle for an improved quality of life.

Running helps you burn fat and form muscles, and slimming down your waistline can also improve your self-esteem and mood. As you jog, your brain will be rewarded with constant bursts of energy as you burn calories.

You can run anywhere you like and should make a point of choosing a different route whenever possible. If you can, run through patches of greenery as often as possible. Try visiting local parks or preserves for your running sessions, as spending time in nature has innumerable health benefits.


Movement is the essence of life. It is what defines living beings, from amoebae to primates, and it stands as a fundamental core of survival. Even sedentary life forms have biochemical cycles, which means that some sort of movement is essential for all life. The same goes for you – humans are social animals and nomads. We have two healthy feet and a musculature ready to take up the challenge.

Movement inherently makes us happier and more productive. Engaging in freeform jogging when suffering a bout of depression can be just what the doctor ordered to achieve that coveted mind-body equilibrium.



Author’s Bio: Vedrana Damjanovic is a passionate writer and editor at Rockay, a fully sustainable sports clothing brand. She enjoys writing about health, sports, sustainability and lifestyle. When she’s not busy, Vedrana likes to travel, run and read books.

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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