Feeling down or struggling with winter blues? Try running therapy
PsyQ International is an expat-oriented mental health centre with offices in The Hague and Amsterdam. Its multilingual doctors and psychologists are dedicated to guiding patients through the personal challenges they encounter as internationals.
Want to beat the Dutch weather or get rid of some stress? The countless health benefits of running are commonly known. But what if you can’t motivate yourself to run regularly?
Running therapy was designed with these considerations in mind. In the program, people meet in a running group at least once a week with an experienced runner and trained psychologist.
Running is one of the easiest ways to exercise: you only need yourself, your running shoes and your sports clothes. The reasons for running also vary per person: to get healthier, stay in shape, create healthy habits, release tension or build self-esteem.
The social aspect of running is also appealing to people. Running in a coached group has the added value of making you more motivated to run regularly and to get to know people.
No matter what the reason, running often has a positive influence on your physical and mental health.
Positive effects of running therapy
Physically, your immune system tends to improve with better circulation. Next to gaining cardiovascular strength, and toning your legs, core muscles like your abdominals also come into play as you run. You may also notice benefits for your sleep cycle and bone strength.
Whilst running, your body produces hormones that improve your mood and break down stress hormones. Exercise stimulates the release of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, which are responsible for your coordination and feeling of well-being. That is why you may feel more balanced and relaxed after a few runs.
There is also a sense of satisfaction when you find out that your body is capable of much more than you ever thought possible.
Moreover, running with a psychologist can provide extra counselling support, as our minds tend to think more freely and make new associations when exercising.
Misconceptions about running therapy
› I lose weight with running therapy
You would have to run for longer than 45 minutes to burn fat. Weight loss is not the goal, but running can increase your muscle mass, which in turn can burn fat. Since muscle mass weighs more than fat, your actual weight could even increase.
› Running is for young people
Running therapy works for individuals of all ages. The coach will guide you personally, depending on your age and what suits you.
› I have never run before, so it won't work now
Often people set their goals too high and expect very fast results in a short amount of time. It could be that you have tried to run in the past, either by yourself or with others, and quit after a while. When joining a running therapy group, the focus is on experiencing joy while working out your body.
Have you had experience with exercise improving your mental well-being? What works for you?
For more information about mental health services for expats, contact PsyQ International:
› PsyQ International Amsterdam
Overschiestraat 61, 1062 XD, Amsterdam
T: +31 (0) 612 21 52 55
Email: [email protected]
› PsyQ International The Hague
Carel Reinierszkade 197, 2593 HR, The Hague
T: +31 (0) 652 56 83 82
Email: [email protected]