3 Reasons Trail Running Will Relieve Stress and Make You Happier

Exercise is a well known stress reliever, and it turns out the environment we run in can have an even larger impact on our stress levels. Running around the neighborhood can provide some emotional and physical release, but we aren’t that far away from the ever present buzzing of our daily lives. If you’ve ever stopped midrun to write an email or text a coworker, you know what we mean.

That’s why it can pay to change up your environment even more. Read on to discover how hitting the trail can make you a happier and more balanced runner.

1. Nature Helps Relieve Mental Stress

In the early eighties, the Japanese government coined the phrase shinrin-yoku, meaning “forest bathing.” The goal of forest bathing is simply to be present in nature, whether that’s deep in the woods or in a city park. Studies have found that spending time in nature, even for ten to twenty minutes, can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. This affects your mood, your energy, and your body’s ability to recover after running and training.

When you run or walk on a trail, you get the physical benefits of exercise while also experiencing the mental benefits of nature.

2. Switching Surfaces Limits Physical Stress

Many running injuries are caused by repetitive physical stress. Running on pavement, concrete or other flat, uniform surfaces keep you locked into the same gait and movement patterns and can lead to overuse injuries.

While running on a softer surface doesn’t necessarily lighten the load on your body, it shifts the load from one area to another. Running on trails helps you work muscles in ways you may not be used to while running on the road, keeping you strong and making you less prone to overuse injuries.

3. Changing Your Routine Keeps You
More Present and Engaged

Do you ever go through your daily routine feeling like you’re on autopilot? Habits can hold us accountable and keep us moving but, if we aren’t careful, we can become prisoners of our same old routine. Switching up your routine is exciting and stimulating. Your brain has to figure out where you are and refocus on what you’re doing. Changing your regular running route and exploring a new trail or park is a great way to fully engage in the run ahead.

Ready to start a new adventure on the trails? These four tips will help you approach your first or next trail run feeling safe, prepared and ready to have fun.

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