Trail Running Spring Cleans The Mind

People looking to make improvements to both their physical and mental wellbeing this spring can achieve it all by simply taking up trail running.

Trail running, where runners set off over grass, woodland, beaches or any other natural outdoor environment, is set to be a massive trend for the new year, with Google search interest around the term ‘trail running’ increasing dramatically by 54% in the last 5 years and sales data from showing a 62% increase in trail running gear in the last 12 months.

charc5Whereas running on treadmills or roads and tarmac can help you achieve a physical goal, health psychologist and MMU lecturer Dr Eric Brymer’s research looks into how trail running gives runners lots of mental health benefits, as well as being great for your body, because it allows you to connect with the natural environment. He says “Trail Running has more effective, profound and long-term psychological health benefits because it’s done outdoors in nature. There’s a growing body of research on ‘green exercise’ that shows the simple pleasure of connecting to the natural world can put you in an optimal frame of mind and reduce the risk of poor mental health.”

Trail Running Mental Health Benefits

Reconnect to nature
Emotional weight loss
You are creating this space for yourself, no distractions
Exercise brings about a sense of achievement

A new survey of 4904 runners reveals that trail runners place much more emphasis on their mental wellbeing than road or treadmill runners, with over 40% of trail runners declaring that trail running is a form of therapy. 88% of the trail runners surveyed agreed that trail running also helps to combat negative emotions, with the majority finding that it helps to release ‘stress’ and ‘melancholy’.

Dr Brymer explains why trail runners experience this catharsis: “Nature is a non-judgmental environment, it allows you to feel negative emotions openly. Often society suggests we should supress ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ emotions which isn’t helpful, it is better to view emotions as important information – then you can deal with them better. Trail running enables you to feel and release unpleasant emotions without shutting down.”

We’ve tried and tested several trail running shoes and our favourite at the moment is the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 2. Click here to read our review to find out why we rate this trail running shoe so highly. If you’re looking for running gear, we recommend Tribesports high performance running tops, mid layers and shorts.

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