The feel-good vibes are off the charts.

By Julia Malacoff
Updated: August 30, 2017

If you've ever thought "running is my therapy," you're not alone. There's just something about pounding the pavement that puts your mind at ease, making it a great way to take care of both your physical and mental health. That's why when we saw a recent post by wellness influencer Maggie Van de Loo of @coffeeandcardio, it really struck a chord. Maggie's account features tons of healthy food, helpful insights on self-care, and a serious passion for logging miles. Most recently, she shared exactly what it is about running that helps her de-stress.

If you consider yourself a runner, her thoughts will probably ring true for you too. "Exercise and in particular, running, is one of the only times that my mind is quiet," she wrote in her caption. "I constantly have a stream of 'what next'; things I need to do, see, finish, remember. Worries and goals and dreams and hurts. And those things can be good, can be motivating. And they can also be so overwhelming," she said. "Running quiets those thoughts. Reduces my to do list to two things; 1. Left, right, left, right, left, right, left... 2. Don't forget to breathe." (Side note: Here are 13 mental health benefits of exercise.)

Running isn't only about stress relief. Maggie points out that it can actually have other benefits that you'd never expect. "Running with someone can strengthen a relationship like you wouldn't believe," she tells Shape exclusively. "Running with people builds such a special bond and creates a distinct support network that I have been hard-pressed to find anywhere else. From run clubs, to running half marathons with a sorority sister, to friend running dates where we solve all the world's problems, there is nothing like it." Are you convinced you need a run buddy yet?

And if this all sounds really appealing but you firmly believe you're "not a runner," Maggie has a little bit of encouragement. "My favorite thing about running is that if you run, then you *are* a runner. Doesn't matter how far, or how fast you are going," she says. While she does acknowledge that getting to that place where you can zone out on a run (instead of thinking "is this over yet?") takes a bit of work, she says a running app that let her track her progress was motivational for her. (For a little inspiration, see how Anna Victoria learned to become a runner.)

"Running might not be the thing that makes your heart sing and your worries fall away, and that's okay too," she says. "Don't stress yourself out trying to de-stress with a workout that you don't like! Part of my journey with running was wading through all of the workouts that were a great physical workout but didn't actually help me manage stress as well, or the ones that were supposed to be great for 'insert wellness purpose here' but actually didn't resonate with me at all." Eventually, you'll find something that clicks, and your brain *and* body will be better for it.


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