Running and mental health: Part of the reason... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Running and mental health


Part of the reason that I have decided to start the c25k is to help with my mental health. I have anxiety and depression, which can leave me with no motivation, confidence and batter my mood.

I've just got back from my first run (so tough! So unfit!) but I did it, and notice a feeling of wellbeing.

Is anyone else in the same boat? I find getting motivated so hard but have heard amazing things about exercise being good for mental health.

Would like to hear from anyone running for the same reasons. Or from anyone really!

I really want to keep going with this.

41 Replies

Hi and well done for starting.

I'm doing it after coming back from serious illness. For me it is good for both body (bone health, heart and general fitness etc) and for mental health as it helps me to keep my anxiety and stress that I might be feeling under control.

Another plus is on the days I have run I do sleep much better at night as this is another area I have trouble with.

This forum has been amazing both in getting support and on reading others inspirational journeys. It certainly has kept me motivated so far! :)

Keep it up! :)

amalthea52Graduate in reply to SuperMouse

Thank you, I'll really try to keep going with it. Good to know it is working for you :)

There are lots of folk here who run for their mental health and who describe the positive benefits from running. There is increasing scientific evidence to support their subjective experience too. Many services prescribe exercise as part of treatment. Wishing you lots of luck with this (oh good for the body too!) :)

amalthea52Graduate in reply to helenwheels

Thank you :)


Me too! I'm lucky in that I don't suffer from anxiety - but depression oh yeah. I had to give up last year while they investigated my migraines- I'm back now & still getting migraines but I'm determined to power through & beat it. Definitely helps with depression. Good luck & this forum is great for advice & support.

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Hidden

Wow, fair play to you for keeping going through migraines. Inspiring!


There was another post just recently on this very topic.

It's very well known that this is incredibly useful for general wellbeing and mental health especially.

I never believed exercise helped until I started c25k 👍😁

Good for you, and like everyone above says, you are not alone in this.

It can super hard sometimes to pick yourself up and power forward, but you should be really proud because you've done just that!

I think that setting a goal for yourself is massively helpful, it can be anything you like and don't hesitate, don't give yourself a chance to find an excuse, keep your chin up and keep pressing forward, you will notice the benefits after every run.

You can do it!! :)

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Running4Hope

That's really kind of you, thanks for the support! I definitely am one for self sabotage and finding excuses but I really want to keep this up.

I too suffer from anxiety and have little to no motivation at all. But this has made me get out and actually exercise

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Matt__

That's awesome, its good to know that it works 👍


Lots of us find that running is beneficial to our mental health. MH issues can make it difficult to get out there, as I know all too well - but once the shoes are on and I'm out of the door, the benefit is so worth while. To the best of my recollection, I've had one run in the past 400 or so which went so badly that I wished I hadn't even bothered trying. And I think that was to do with the dog being stubborn as far as I can remember now!

amalthea52Graduate in reply to RainbowC

It's good to know that it can be done :) thank you.


I too am struggling with depression and anxiety, worse than I've ever been and I'm currently signed off from work due to it. I started C25K for that reason and to be fitter too. Just about to start my last week and I'm loving It, the runs give me something to focus on rather than worrying over everything, and while I feel like I'm failing at everything else in life I feel like I'm achieving something with this. Seeing such a big difference in your fitness level, as you will soon enough really makes you feel better about yourself.

I've always been an outdoorsy person but was at risk of almost becoming a hermit as I had no motivation, energy to go out. Running gets me out and I always look forward to the next session.

Good luck, hope you see changes soon

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Mand102

It's really inspiring that you have achieved all of that with what you're going through, fair play to you 🌸 I love being outdoors too, but tend to get stuck inside, in my own head. So glad it works for you, and hope you start to feel better mental health wise too. Best wishes. X


Your post touched me, a lot of us here are coming back from illness, or trying to make a condition we live with more under control, our control. We cN use this to further our journey along the c25k road. When you’ve suffered as you have you have got resilience and that is a skill we need with running. So well done and great support here x

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Jullaly

Thank you for your support. I'm really hoping I can keep it up and get how I'm feeling under control. I'm so used to self-sabotaging cause I feel like I don't deserve it or being 'sporty' isn't for people like me. But like you said, its about getting a grip on things and saying I CAN do this (no matter how slow I go!). X


Well done you.. the list of folk in the same boat would make a whole flotilla!!! The benefits of this programme are amazing, mental and physical...

You have begun this and now you will keep are not alone and we will be with you! My Black Dog, appears every now and then, but he is lazy and hates running... !!!

You can do this... just believe it:)

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Oldfloss

Thank you, its so reassuring to know it's not just me. So glad I found this forum, and people that are getting positive results on their mental health :)


Yes, felt much better as I went on through the programme, it's tough, as long as you have no physical pains then push on through, slow and steady, and disregard the negative thoughts, I can almost guarantee that you will get a great buzz afterwards and feelings of well being and reap the benefits of your efforts..😊

amalthea52Graduate in reply to davelinks

Thank you, I will keep in mind to stay slow and steady. Have always found running tough since a kid. Glad to know that you have had good results ☺


I did a c25k programme with Dudley Mind. They see a benefit for mental health.

It might be worth contacting Mind and seeing if there is one in your area at all?

When you are up to even walking 5k the park runs are surprisingly sociable and nice to take part in but I was anxious my first time due to the amount of people there - took a bit of getting used to! X

Hi! I started running last year to get fit, but to also see if it would help with some low-level depression I had been struggling with on and off for the last few years. And, I feel SO much better! It has also given me heaps of confidence. I mean, I can run 6k now, so what else can I do?! It is fantastic. I have not felt that horrible sinking feeling of despair for a long time now, and when to do occasionally feel a bit down, even if I don’t feel like it, I get out there and run, come rain or shine. That beautiful buzzy feeling you get with a hot shower after a run is worth it for that alone!

I am also peri-menopausal, and have noticed some increased anxiety, which is common for women of menopausal age (flipping hormones!), so have started doing some mindfulness exercises whenever I am having an anxious day. This too is working a treat.

Good luck on your running adventures! Be patient yet persistent, believe in yourself, and please do check in with us regularly for support and cheering on!

Sadie x

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Sadie-runs

Hi Sadie, thanks for the support. It's great to know that it works. How bad I'm feeling is definitely linked to my cycle and always has been- agree, flipping hormones! I went to my first yoga class last night (nearly talked myself out of it but glad I didnt) and we did some relaxation and mindfulness at the end, it was great and I'd like to continue that. I will keep posting too :)

I do yoga every day and love it. It also compliments running beautifully, stretching out muscles that can shorten over time with running! You got this. Well done on making such a positive change to your life! x

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Sadie-runs

Oh lovely :) I've downloaded an app called down dog for between lessons, I guess once you get practised at it you can just do your own flow without all that.

Thanks for the encouragement. X


Depression in the fairly distant past - but we’re all like addicts on that front, it’s always a day at a time and sometimes stuff surfaces - but ongoing (particularly social) anxiety.

Part of the reason for running is trying to regain confidence and fitness after being left by wife of 20 years who had been having an affair.

I don’t understand why but doing this programme (just completed W4 so a way to go to the end) has massively increased my confidence. And the buzz I get at the end of the final running part of each session is just unreal.

I imagine if I was back with deep depression I would never even get my trainers on, so you probably need to be in a “recovering” phase at least to do this. The lift if people can is immense.

Good luck with your mental health and your running.

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Jay66UK

Thank you. Sorry to hear about your relationship difficulties, that must be so tough.

Sounds like you are reaping the benefits of c25k though, good on you. Would be easy to let things get you down but you are out there pushing through, I think that's awesome. Keep going!

Hopefully I will see an increase in confidence too :)

Best wishes to you.

Jay66UKGraduate in reply to amalthea52

Thanks - you too!

I figure you either let things destroy/define you or you choose to get on with life. I’ve chosen to get on with it.

I have started c25k for the same reasons. I struggle to do a run but feel good for achieving it.

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Jwood7369

I'm also finding it tough. I am so much more unfit than I thought! Pushing through cause I feel great afterwards also :) week 1 run 2. How far are you?

Jwood7369 in reply to amalthea52

I’ve completed week 2 run 2 so still early on. I am finding it tough, my fitness level is so poor 🙈

I also started running to help my mental health, largely anxiety and insecurity too. Running lets me get out of my head for an hour a day and the endorphin rush helps. I've set myself crazy running targets and goals and it's doing me good to have things to look forward to! I hope running helps you as much as it seems to be helping me :)


Hi there, I've just joined the couch25k group, I live very near you and also suffer with anxiety. I need to lose weight and get fitter because of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but I'm hoping it'll give my mental health a boost, too.

I see that you're up to week 5 now, so well done, I know what you mean about how hard it is to motivate yourself! That's my main reason for talking so long to start this! As well as lacking confidence and worrying about what people will think of me and my blubber wobbling along. But, I'm determined to overcome that & not let it hold me back any longer. Always here for a chat If you need one x

amalthea52Graduate in reply to Hidden

Hello :)

I definitely struggled with motivation, still do, but it's not as bad now. I think what helps is :

- Luckily i live near a big park, and if i go early enough, there aren't many people there. I also have my own little route now, that i am used to, which definitely helps because i know what to expect.

- I plug myself into my headphones and listen to music constantly. This means i don't have to listen to my own puffing (!), I can pretend I am in a film or something and just generally helps with motivation and dialing down feeling anxious.

- Make sure i have a playlist of really positive songs to keep my thoughts light while running.

- There is always support on here and i think a lot of people imagine everyone off here cheering you on. I often think of posts when completing a run.

- When i pass super fit, fast looking runners, instead of thinking that they are probably thinking 'what the hell, what is she doing, wobbly' etc i try to imagine they are thinking 'go on girl' which is what i think when i see more obviously novice runners.

It does get easier, I promise. I get anxious, down on myself, overthink everything, massively unfit opposite of sporty type when i started and i am still going. It does get better. The sense of achievement improves your confidence every time you finish a run.

You can do it! xx

Well done for starting your journey amalthea52. I started as I was experiencing some serious stress and bullying at work and just wanted to find some head space for myself with out the needs of the family selfish but essential I have just completed week 7 I look forward to getting out and I have found that I’m much less stressed and can cope with what is being thrown at me so much easier. Well done for getting out of your comfort zone. And just a tip I found podcasts really good I find a subject I’m interested in plug my ears in and off I go and I make sure that I don’t finish the podcast at home I have to run to finish it.

amalthea52Graduate in reply to SammieCh

Hi Sammie,

I know what you mean about the head space. I can't believe i look forward to running now! :'D

This may sound like a stupid question, but where do you get podcasts from? I usually listen to music on a music app. I think a podcast might be a good change, I find with the longer runs my mind starts to wander.

Glad you are seeing the benefits and are feeling less stressed :)

I have a iPhone and I just go on to podcast icon but if you have an Android phone you can get them through google play and then ask people what they are listening to. I’m listening to table manners with jess wear and under the skin Russell Brand but there are some great stories and actually this is the internet there’s podcasts on anything x

amalthea52Graduate in reply to SammieCh

Thanks! I really like Russell Brand, will check this out :)

Yes it really helps, I think that knowing your doing something positive helps lift your mood. Plus good chemicals are released which help too.


Hi there. I’m 52 overweight etc and also suffer from anxiety and depression. I have just finished week 3 run 1 and I’m feeling great. It was really tough but that feel good sensation after you finish is priceless. I have found my moods are better and my panic attacks are way down. Keep it up you will notice a difference. Good luck 😉

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