Running can make some dramatic changes in your life: it improves your health and can have a transformative effect on the way you live. While some of these will no doubt take time to take shape, the benefits below can take almost immediate effect.

Instant Mood Booster
It’s been shown that running can instantly improve your mood. If you are feeling down and out for no obvious reason, try going out for a run. Just 15 to 20 minutes of running can boost your energy and lift your mood. Aerobic exercise is known to produce endorphins, the body’s natural pain and stress fighting chemicals, that are responsible for the famous post-workout “runner’s high.”

Support Positive Thinking
Many of us struggle with negative thoughts that take over our minds and leave us feeling drained and unproductive. Managing stress and staying motivated are two major factors in maintaining a positive mindset. While post-run endorphins can play a big role in relieving stress, setting goals and watching your progress over time can be a great motivator. Remember, even just 15 minutes of physical activity is proven to provide a release and increase optimism. *More reasons why running is GOOD for your mental health, here.

Spark Creativity
Meditation can be another great tactic to promote mindfulness and help with stress relief and creativity. In meditation, your mind is able to relax and find peace which helps improve your attention and shut off reactionary thinking. Running can often help you to reach a similar state of mental relaxation and reduce the activity in the frontal cortex. Often times you will feel more calm after a run, allowing you to reach a more thoughtful state.

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Improve Health and Confidence
Aerobic exercise has countless health benefits including maintaining healthy blood pressure, reducing stress, managing blood sugar levels, and improving your metabolic rate. Running has also been shown to boost confidence, body image, and self-esteem. In addition to all of the physical and mental benefits we’ve covered, running can help improve your posture, physique, and even look more vibrant with that post-workout glow.

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Rest Easy
Studies have found that some physical activity, especially in the morning, can help make it easier to fall asleep at night. It is also proven to improve the quality and time of sleep. Learn more about how better SLEEP, can improve your running


*This is an adaption of an article which originally appeared on our RunKeeper blog.