Healthy Mind for Happy Running

April 21, 2022

Healthy Mind for Happy Running

Exercise and nutrition are known to play a role in developing and altering brain function and studies have shown that both exercise and nutrition could affect mind/mood and cognition positively and negatively. So, we:

  • Outline some mind/mood symptoms runners may experience and why
  • Discuss foods/nutrients that may induce negative or promote positive mood and mindset in runners
  • Create a one-day meal plan you may wish to consider for a healthy mind and happy running


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Healthy Mind for Happy Running


Discussing the positive endorphin effects of moderate running before moving on to outline the potential negative psychological effects of intense and/or prolonged running.


Considering the potential drivers of detrimental mind/mood symptoms associated with endurance or intense running.



See below


Highlighting potential dietary lifestyles that may enhance mental wellbeing or possibly be a driver of poor mind/mood and cognition symptoms with a focus on the common Western Diet and the Traditional Mediterranean Diet.


Exploring foods/meals to support positive mental wellbeing therefore enhance running performance

Foods discussed include: Eggs, legumes, fermented foods, and a variety of vegetables.

Female Factor

Healthy Mind for Happy Running

  1. The strain of mental health (and behavioural disorders) is estimated to account for more years of lived disability than any other chronic health ailment. From data collected between 2007 to 2017 the global proportion of disability-adjusted life years caused by mental ill-health has increased from:
  • Males: 12.7% to 14%
  • Females: 13.6% to 14.4%

So, from these statistics, the years lived with mental ill health has increased for both men and women, however it would appear women are at increased risk of developing mental health issues besides men.

  1. Female *obligatory (obsessive) runners are most at risk of eating pathophysiology than their male counterparts or non-obsessive runners
  2. Commitment to running can occur without addiction in female runners but not in males

* Obligatory runners – obsessive runners who sacrifice commitments and relationships for running and suffer withdrawal symptoms if they miss a run


Healthy Mind for Happy Running

  1. Moderate running is known to be a therapeutic tool for different negative psychological conditions, such as: depression, anxiety, tension, mood changes and low self esteem
  2. However intense and/or prolonged running may lead to detrimental mind/mood symptoms in some people
  3. Our diet can also affect our emotions and cognitive function in a positive or detrimental way with the common Western Diet leading to low mood/cognition and the Mediterranean diet encouraging positive emotions and mindset
  4. A compromised immune system and a poor gut microbiome are thought to be the key drivers of low mood/cognition due to their influence on inflammation
  5. As well as affecting us physically, inflammation is known to affect: Energy, Sleep and Motivation….amongst other things
  6. Increasing intake of whole foods and following a traditional Mediterranean diet has been found to diminish many emotional/psychological symptoms such as low mood/depression/anxiety

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The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

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