Many people know running offers a way to enjoy the outdoors, stay fit and even socialize. But did you know it can also significantly impact your mental well-being?

In recognition of Mental Health Month in May, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) is highlighting valuable mental health resources and how running can contribute to your overall well-being.

Physical benefits of running

Whether you run for fun or are training for your next Born and Raced in Nebraska 10K, powered by BCBSNE, just 10 minutes of running a day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Running is also a great (and budget-friendly!) way to manage weight. When combined with a healthy diet and a training plan to fit your experience level, running can kick start an exercise routine, aiding in weight loss and boosting your mental well-being.

Mental health benefits of running

Many runners have experienced the pride, happiness and even relief that comes with finishing a long run or reaching a goal you’ve been chasing.

Studies by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggest the relaxed feeling after a run comes from endocannabinoids produced by your body during exercise. These contribute to the well-known “runner’s high,” but the effects are temporary. Consistent running, whether training for a race or simply building a healthy habit, promotes the growth of new blood vessels and improves working memory, focus and mood.

“I’ve been treated for anxiety and depression since I was 15/16,” said Amanda Merfeld, communications strategist and photojournalist at BCBSNE. “For me, the best trio of management for both has been medication, therapy and some sort of physical exercise.”

Additionally, the University of Maryland says a regular exercise routine offers long-term benefits for managing stress and anxiety. A well-structured running program can train your brain to handle stressful situations and boost your confidence when you achieve your goals, ultimately improving your mental well-being.

“If I get a good run in almost every day, I sleep better, I focus better and I tend to have more energy,” said Merfeld. “Plus, it gives me goals to work toward and be proud of myself for achieving.”

Resources and tools to support mental health

As part of its commitment to a holistic approach to mental health, BCBSNE provides access to resources that will enhance your health and well-being. Whether you’re looking for guidance on practicing self-care, need immediate crisis support or something in between, BCBSNE is there to help.

Check out these resources and tools as you work to improve your mental health:

  • Emergency response resources – View resources and organizations to get immediate and confidential support for individuals and families in crisis.
  • Know the signs – Resources that can help you understand the signs of mental health problems.
  • Mental health glossary – Understand some of the terminology associated with mental health.

View BCBSNE’s full suite of mental health resources at