A scoping review of the relationship between running and mental health

Freya Oswald, Jennifer Campbell, Chloë Williamson, Justin Richards, Paul Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Poor mental health contributes significantly to global morbidity. The evidence regarding physical benefits of running are well-established. However, the mental health impacts of running remain unclear. An overview of the relationship between running and mental health has not been published in the last 30 years. The purpose of this study was to review the literature on the relationship between running and mental health. Our scoping review used combinations of running terms (e.g., Run* and Jog*) and mental health terms (general and condition specific). Databases used were Ovid(Medline), Ovid(Embase), ProQuest and SportDiscus. Quantitative study types reporting on the relationships between running and mental health were included. Database searches identified 16,401 studies; 273 full-texts were analysed with 116 studies included. Overall, studies suggest that running bouts of variable lengths and intensities, and running interventions can improve mood and mental health and that the type of running can lead to differential effects. However, lack of controls and diversity in participant demographics are limitations that need to be addressed. Cross-sectional evidence shows not only a range of associations with mental health but also some associations with adverse mental health (such as exercise addiction). This review identified extensive literature on the relationship between running and mental health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • exercise
  • mental health
  • psychology
  • physical activity
  • running
  • jogging

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