Anyone else running as a mood-booster rather than weight loss?

Hi, I have just started the C25k programme (literally done w1r1) and I'm feeling better already! I'm only 18, female, and although I'm not at all overweight I am seriously out of shape! I found the run's moderately easy but was sweating by the last one, and I hope I can progress to week 2 with only 3 runs a week.

I have recently been diagnosed with clinical depression and am running to boost my mood! Most of the communities I've seen on here are concerned with weight loss, so I was wondering if there's anyone else running not for weight loss but for mental well-being instead (or maybe both)? Not necessarily as a depression helper, but just to generally feel better.

I'm worried I'll lose motivation after just a few runs, so I would be grateful for any tips on how to stay motivated!

22 Replies

  • I didn't start running for any other reason other than to improve my health. The outcome however has been, loss of weight, healthier and fitter than I was in my 40's and it's also a wonderful stress buster. So for me a hat trick ;)

  • Hi and welcome :)

    I have to say I've noticed that I feel a lot better mentally since starting the programme (though that wasn't my reason to do it). I think any form of exercise can help to boost your mood but I especially love this programme. I've not been able to enjoy any form of exercise as much as this in years! I think the structure of it is really helpful and helps to keep you motivated.

    Hope you enjoy it and keep us updated on how you're getting on! xx

  • I started running to keep my weight in check (diets don't work in my opinion, you need to have a life!). I have found though, that it is a bit of a stress buster. Every run I complete leaves me on a little bit of a high, a real sense of achievement which sets me up for the day.

    As for depression, I don't know. I have never knowingly suffered from depression. I hope it helps. If nothing else you will be fitter. :-)

    Good luck

  • Hi, I have also been diagnosed with clinical depression, so am using C25K as a mood booster as well as a way to lose weight as I am obese according to my BMI.

    Motivation wise I have set a goal to complete the 10 Km Wolf Run next summer and have also convinced one of my friends to do the C25K with me, hopefully this will keep me motivated. I am doing my first run tonight.

    I hope you manage to stay motivated, and that this helps improve both of our moods!

  • Hi tchock,

    Well done for starting the program and welcome!

    I didn't personally begin running to boost my mood, for me it was a weight loss and fitness choice, due to having been diagnosed with a spinal bulge. But I can honestly say it has improved my mood, now I turn to jogging rather than junk food after a crappy day. I think clearer and sleep better after a run which are all positives.

    Everyone has their own experience. Listen to yourself and trust the program. Some runs are easier than others, just like some days are easier than others, you really can't predict them. There's no way to fail, if you don't manage a run, nevermind, you'll do it next time, or the time after that. There's been times where I have thought 'I doubt I'll be able to do that' but I've achieved it by taking it steady, listening to my body and trusting the program.

    You've made a huge step just by starting. Good luck and keep us posted! :)

  • I did not start to run because of depression, I just needed to improve my health - but after starting I was prescribed anti-depressants after a particularly damaging bad experience. I have found that, since running regularly, I have been feeling so much more in control and so my world is much less chaotic and therefore less frighteningly 'out of control' than it used to feel. I put all that down to the running. I think it has a lot to do with you taking back control of your life and not letting life push you about any more! For me that was the greatest boost from the running. I hope that is the result you manage to achieve too!

    I know that you will feel so much more comfy in your skin so that will help to keep you motivated!

    All power to you! :) :) :)


  • Hi, I started C25K for fitness rather than weight loss. I have to say that it's really helped mentally too - it really helps clear the head, gives a sense of achievement when you meet a target (even if that's "just" going out for a run - and on a bad day, then that would be an achievement), and then there's those endorphins that kick in too, although I have to confess that chocolate still seems a very satisfying, quick fix.

    Anyway, as far as motivation goes, ticking off each run as you manage to finish it is a great start. Getting through the programme is a great motivator in itself. Once you finish, hopefully you'll have become addicted, so motivation won't be a problem :) However, if it does become an issue, then there are a couple of options - signing up for a race is one. Another is having some sort of accountability - if that sounds negative, then it needn't be - you'll see a "quest" that gets posted every few weeks where a number of people post a short term goal that they are aiming for (you don't have to have graduated to join in).

  • Well done for getting started tchock! I did start running for weight reasons, but have found that it does help my mood and also energy levels (I have had chronic depression on and off for years-not on meds for this at present). Just follow Laura's instructions and you will amaze yourself! I run 3 times a week too,( Tues,Thurs and Sunday), you will find a pattern that fits with your personal lifestyle. Look forward to reading about your progress, happy running x

  • I started running to aid my weight loss, having suffered really badly with anxiety issues it was a huge step for me to get out the door. Some 4 months later my anxiety issues are practically non-existent, I'm happier than I've ever been and am able to handle stressful situations a lot better.

    Good luck in staying motivated, reading everyone's posts on here is a big help :)

  • Thanks everyone, it's really good to know that running has helped to improve everyone mood, even if it wasn't the original intention :)

  • I agree. Never intended it but a wonderful side effect of my desire to increase fitness has been how much I love to run and forget about the daily stresses... It's me and the road... Nothing else matters for those runs... My goals, my rules and my time..


  • Hi and welcome to c25k :)

    I started mainly to improve my general fitness but with the knowledge that it could also help as a 'mood booster'.

    A couple of years ago I spent approx 9 months off work with work related stress and anxiety which then developed into depression. It was a long road back and at times I didn't think I would ever return to work. However, I did but I'm still on medication albeit greatly reduced from where I was.

    What I have found since starting the c25k is that it does help, enormously, as a 'mood booster'. It relieves stress and I seem more able to cope better with everyday stressful situations. The medical profession is fairly convinced that exercise is good for depression so I wish you all the best on your c25k journey and I hope it helps with your illness. Good luck ;)

  • Welcome to the C25k community. We are a happy lot. As well as improving your fitness, this training plan will also boost moods and improve self esteem and self confidence. There is the short term chemical effects of endorphins and endogenous cannabinoids (yeah, we are a bunch of junkies), but also the regular and longer term satisfaction of achievement which is built into the programme. Running has changed the lives of so many people on this forum and I am sure it can work for you. Good luck and keep us posted with your progress.

  • I'm with everyone else here. I didn't think I particularly lacked confidence but as Iannoda says it definitely improved my self esteem & as a bonus, I do less comfort eating. Life can be particularly stressful with work & caring responsibilities & general peace keeping duties & running certainly keeps me on an even keel. I use the quests RNB talks about for motivation.

  • hi, yes, I started couch to 5k to boost my energy levels and not to loose weight, I found I was slowing down in middle age and hated the old feeling I felt, my energy levels have increased considerably but not only that, something I did not expect was my whole attitude to life to change, I now realise I have potential to achieve and have had a careers interview to help me completely change my career, something I had just given up on as I saw myself as too old to change career. Even tho I haven't lost lots of weight some has come off, but better than that I am toned up so feel much more confident and comfortable in summer dresses... ( I am a woman despite the user name!)

  • You will feel better for embarking on the programme I'm sure. The early runs are not difficult and it's lovely being out in the fresh air, finding fresh places to run and generally gettng out and about and exploring new places, even if they are on your doorstep. I think the euphoria of finishing the run is hard to beat, and you'll want more of it as you progress through the weeks.

    Beek is quite right about the clarity it brings. You seem to be able to think more clearly. I suppose it's because you've taken yourself out of your environment and given yourself time to think. It's a great way to clear your mental cupboards out!

    Enjoy yourself! Let us know how you get on. We'll be here when you get back from your run

  • Hi there and welcome! I agree that this running malarkey is a real mood booster. Even if I'm feeling a bit daunted when I set off, by the end I'm buzzin! I tend to go early in the morning. Everything seems quieter and I'm alone with my thoughts for the day, along with noticing lots of things along the way...I've become interested in appreciating what I see as I's amazing! Please let us know how you are doing!

  • I started the programme when I was off work with depression. I have a very demanding job and knew I had to get my energy and stamina levels up before returning to work. I set myself some small targets (not all running related) to achieve before I went back. One was to run a short section of the transpennine trail non stop - when I first started it seemed an impossible goal, but I smashed it with 4 weeks to go and felt great!

    I'm now back at work full time but not able to run due to an achilles problem and definitely noticing the difference. I never thought I would miss running!

    Good luck with the running and dealing with the depression. Always here if you need a chat x

  • Hi tchock,

    Well done for gathering the motivation to get started in the first place - not easy when you're depressed. I started the programme for a few reasons but mainly to manage my depression after years of trying different anti-depressants, all of which had serious side effects for me and none of which were particularly effective. Having struggled through last year with no meds, no exercise and consistent depression, I started C25K in September and (apart from a couple of injury breaks) have not stopped running since. I finally feel as if I've found the answer to managing my mental health and living my life properly. In terms of motivation, sometimes it is hard to get out of the door, into the rain and wind (and dark in Winter), but never as hard as the thought of going back to how I felt before! I think as your fitness improves and you can run for longer and you have a few good runs (and conquer some bad ones), your mental health will improve and that will become it's own motivation. If it helps, think of running like anti-depressant medicine - it will be some time before you feel the full benefit, so keep taking it and don't stop without consulting your health care provider (in our case, this forum, which is fabulous for motivating you when you you're feeling a bit despondent). Good luck and take care :0)!!

  • Fitness in body, fitness in mind. My personal thoughts are that running benefits you mentally more than it contributes to weight loss. I have never been on a diet in my life, although we have bathroom scales i very rarely weigh myself so weight loss is definitely not an incentive for running. I am however a constant deep thinker who cannot sleep at night due to always having something on my mind to resolve. I find running so beneficial, it gives me 'me time', clears my mind and is fantastic at relaxing mind and body.

    When you increase your running time and can comfortable run for 30 minutes plus it is so great to just get out and run with only yourself, nature and the elements for company.

    I think running benefits the mind and body first any weight loss is secondary.

    I hope you continue your journey and enjoy.

  • Wow you've all been brilliant, it's great to hear that even those who started running just to lose-weight have also found other physical and mental benefits! It's true like people say, I've only completes W1D2 so far but when I'm running I don't seem to think of anything else which is such a nice break. I hope I can keep this up because after the run I feel much better and elevated, it's meant to be really rainy here tomorrow but that might even be nice :)

  • There is another benefit, (well at least for me) in that you get to see parts of the city you'd never see if you weren't running. I like the idea that I can run and run and get lost and see things and buildings I never knew existed.

You may also like...