How To Reduce Stress By Running

Getty / JGI/Tom Grill
Long-distance running can calm the mind. Getty / JGI/Tom Grill

Stress can come from many different areas of your life. When you have social anxiety, work, school, family, and friends can be some sources of stress.

Running is a sport that has many benefits, including weight loss, cardiac health, wellness, and fitness. However, an often-overlooked benefit of running is stress relief. While you may feel nervous running at a gym or in public at first, it will get easier every time that you do it.

Start with small goals, such as a short jog around the block, and build as you feel more comfortable.

Long-Distance Running

Running can be done in various ways. If you’re looking to take your mind off things and forget the world for a while, go on a long and slow run to clear your head. On these long runs, your mind may start out scattered and frantic. However, as you continue your long run, your stress will fall away and you may be left with an almost instinctual urge to keep running. Your thoughts will switch from chaos and frustration to the simple mantra of “left, right, left, right.” In many ways, long-distance running mimics meditation.


If you’re looking to “blow off some steam” and looking for a quick fix to a stressful day, consider going for a quick, fast run. The main benefit of a quick sprint is its lasting effects on the brain. Short, fast bursts followed by slower jogs are known as High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.

Short bursts of sprinting followed by short jogging sessions fire up the dopamine and epinephrine in your brain,  improving your mood and focus, which can help you better manage your stress.

Running allows you to disconnect from the world, in a way. It allows you not only to be alone with your thoughts, but also to focus on your priorities and sort out the difficulties you might be facing with regard to your social anxiety.

The long-term benefits of running are numerous. The more you run, the more you want to run, and the more you begin to feel relaxed, in control, and motivated.

Using Music

While on your run, think about listening to music. According to a study described in Runner’s World magazine, listening to music while running a 5K increases run speed, particularly at the start of the race.

Whether you draw motivation from the music or the music helps to distract you from your stress, it can help you learn to love running. If you feel that you would rather run in silence, that can also help you focus on your goals, the causes of your stress, and how to make improvements in your situation.

Final Thoughts

The longer you stay with running, the more beneficial it can be for you. Those who run to relieve or reduce stress may feel that they are more in control of what happens to them, feel more well-balanced than when they weren’t running, and feel less stressed by the situations they find themselves in.

Stress can eat away at you when small problems being to build.

However, as you start to learn to love running, running will reward you by granting you the serenity that you are seeking.

The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can offer a reward that helps millions of people every day. Running is a long-term solution for those looking to reduce stress, feel better, and gain control of their social anxiety.


Bigliassi, M., León-Domínguez, U., Buzzachera, C. F., Barreto-Silva, V., & Altimari, L. R. (2014). How Does Music Aid 5 Km of Running? Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. Retrieved from

Winter, B., Breitenstein, C., Mooren, F. C., Voelker, K., Fobker, M., Lechtermann, A., Krueger, K., et al. (2007). High impact running improves learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 87(4), 597-609.

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