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Stride Towards Clarity: How Running Enhances Focus and Concentration

Introduction:

In a world filled with distractions and constant stimuli, maintaining focus and concentration can be a challenge. While many turn to various strategies to boost cognitive abilities, one simple yet effective solution is often overlooked—running. Beyond its cardiovascular benefits, running has the remarkable ability to sharpen focus and enhance concentration. In this blog post, let's explore the science behind how running improves cognitive function and discover how incorporating this physical activity into your routine can lead to a clearer, more focused mind.


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The Cognitive Benefits of Running:

  1. Increased Blood Flow to the Brain: Running elevates heart rate and increases blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain. This enhanced blood circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients, promoting optimal brain function and supporting cognitive processes.

  2. Release of Neurotransmitters: The physical exertion of running stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals play a crucial role in regulating mood, attention, and focus, contributing to a heightened state of alertness.

  3. Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity: Regular running has been linked to neurogenesis—the growth of new neurons in the brain—and increased brain plasticity. These processes enhance learning, memory, and the brain's ability to adapt to new information, ultimately improving focus.

  4. Stress Reduction and Clarity: Running is a potent stress-reliever, reducing cortisol levels and promoting a sense of clarity. Stress and anxiety can impair cognitive function, and by alleviating these factors, running contributes to improved concentration and mental acuity.

Strategies to Maximize Focus During Your Run:

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  1. Mindful Running Techniques: Practice mindfulness during your run by focusing on your breath, tuning into your surroundings, and being present in the moment. This mindful approach fosters concentration and trains your mind to stay focused on the task at hand.

  2. Interval Training: Incorporate interval training into your running routine. Alternating between periods of higher and lower intensity boosts cognitive flexibility and challenges your brain to shift between tasks efficiently.

  3. Set Clear Goals: Establish clear objectives for your run. Whether it's achieving a certain distance, improving your pace, or reaching a specific destination, having goals enhances motivation and focus during the run.

  4. Choose Engaging Routes: Opt for running routes that captivate your interest. Scenic or dynamic environments provide visual stimulation, preventing boredom and promoting sustained attention.

My Morning Runs:

In this post touched on how healing my autoimmune disease slowly allowed me to get back

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into running, however, I never really gave you the secret as to what keeps me getting up in the morning and heading out for a run regardless of the weather conditions,


Let me give you a little background on my autoimmune disease. I have what is known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. With this comes not only allergic reactions which include hives, an elevated heart rate, cold sensitivity and random hot flashes, but also immense amounts of brain fog and drowsiness. When my auto immune disease set in full force, I was working every day in a lab dealing with COVID-19 samples. Between the severe allergic reactions I would have, coupled with the joint pain and brain fog, I just could not see myself working anywhere but remotely.


Of course working from home did not solve the brain fog, joint pain or allergic reactions, but it certainly took some of the anxiety away and allowed me to focus on my work more. Once I was diagnosed with MCAS I knew that this was something that was not just going to go away on its own, and was determined to figure out how to properly manage the crippling brain fog I was experiencing.


As I began to get back into running, I felt a clear elevation in my mood and productivity following the run. So much so that It became second nature for me to ensure that I had ample time to get a run in before an important meeting or project that I had to get finished. Regardless of the time or distance, as long as I got my blood flowing and some steps in, I knew I would be unstoppable that day.


The next time you are stressed, or even just want to start your day on the right foot, I challenge you to take just a five minute walk outdoors, and you will see a clear difference in the path your day takes.


For anyone that completes this, tag @damngoodthyme's Instagram's to be featured in our next newsletter!


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Conclusion:

Running isn't just about physical fitness; it's a dynamic mental exercise that can transform your focus and concentration. As you hit the pavement or trail, envision each step propelling you towards a clearer, more attentive mind. Embrace the cognitive benefits of running and discover the joy of a focused and energized mental state, one stride at a time.

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Hi, I'm Amanda, founder of Damngoodthyme. I'm so glad to have you here!

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