Running with Rhyno: Running improves mental health

Running 100 kilometres at one time may seem unfathomable to most people.

I used to be one of those nonbelievers. But the more I ran, and the more I mingled with ultra runners, the more I knew what was possible.

Over the years, I have interviewed and chatted with many runners.

I have bent an ear to a runner who confides he or she now feels more confident and has improved self-esteem thanks to running.

Let’s not forget those runners who drop a ton of weight, and, as a result, kicked all the associated health issues to the curb.

Hearing those inspiring running stories always moves me. I’m a sucker for those underdog, feel-good stories.

But there are also those personal struggle stories some are hesitant to share.

Last week, Canadians from Victoria to St. John’s shared messages of support and kindness to those struggling and recovering from mental illness for Bell Let’s Talk Day.

This year a record-setting nearly $7 million was raised for mental health programs across the country.Ending the stigma around mental illness is the driving force behind the campaign.

My Twitter feed was flooded with words of encouragement, and very, very personal stories. See what happens when you utter the simple words I’m here to listen.

I’m always amazed, and honoured, to be at the listening end of these testimonies. Near strangers have shared some pretty deep stuff on the trail. I’ve read studies that suggest prescribing running (or other forms of exercise) as opposed to anti-depressants can help bolster mental health.

Call it running therapy. Running generally puts everyone in a better mood.

Now I am not suggesting that all that ails a person can be cured by a bout of exercise. What I am saying is running has helped lift the fog for some people including myself.

My stress and anxiety levels dissipate, and I don’t feel like giving up once I find my running groove.

Running has helped both mentally and physically in so many ways. I’m thankful I have found something I enjoy (and the community that comes with it), which keeps me present and hopeful.

Remember: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato

Let’s keep the conversation going.

***

Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to crhyno@reddeeradvocate.com

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