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Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  90 reviews
From a New York Times–bestselling author and lifelong runner, a groundbreaking guide to fighting depression and anxiety one run at a time

There’s no other book like this. Longtime running writer Scott Douglas marshals expert advice (especially his own, cultivated from more than 110,000 miles of personal experience), and a growing body of scientific research to show how run
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by The Experiment
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  605 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars

Nothing earth-shattering here, but overall an earnest, thoughtful reflection on what running can and cannot do to improve one’s mental health. At times I felt like the author’s case studies were too limited to his friends, but I liked his voice and the way he blended memoir with self-help research.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: running-books
I check out and skim a lot of running books that I never review here because I don't finish them. I expected that to be the case with this one, too, but I was so pleasantly surprised by this book that I not only kept it one day beyond the library due-date (horrors!) in order to finish it, I also plan to buy it, which is unusual for me even with the running books I do finish.

Depression is a fact in my family. I now believe I've suffered from it on and off, the worst instances being as a teen befo
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I'm thanked in the Acknowledgements, so I'm certainly biased. But I wanted to be involved with this project from the moment I heard about it because the topic is near and dear to my heart, and Douglas' final product does not disappoint.

With a fine melding of scientific data and personal anecdote, he offers the reader a rare glimpse into both mental illness and the often-overlooked ways we attempt to self-medicate through exercise, namely running. From chemical neurotransmitters
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book focused on, as the author succintly puts it, "integration of body and mind via running in managing depression and anxiety".

The first part of the book shares the author's personal experiences with their professional writing career, and how running has helped them with anxiety. It also delves into the mental health benefits of running (a minimum of twice a week is suggested), along with ample evidence and scientific data backing up their claims.

The second part of the book, and the meat of
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version. I loved this. Lots of profiles of different runners' experiences with depression and anxiety and their paths to feeling OK.
Matt Graupman
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I believe there are certain behaviors and coping mechanisms that, when one suffers from mental health issues, one is innately drawn to. Obviously, there are people who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. On the other (nerdier) end of the spectrum, I’ve noticed a definite correlation between mental illness and comics creators, whether that be anxiety or depression or whatnot. There’s something therapeutic in the process of sitting alone, drawing, working through mental anguish and then releasin ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Running is My Therapy confirmed everything I suspected about running and it's effect on depression, anxiety, stress management and general mood. Scott Douglas includes his personal experiences with depression and running as well as accounts from other runners (friends and strangers) who have used running to manage their depression or anxiety. The book also includes research results and suggestions from these results for the amount and duration of running needed to aid treatment of depression and ...more
Catherine (literaryprints)
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Some of the points felt repetitive after a while, but I personally find reading different people's accounts of how running has helped improve their mental health and overall quality of life really fascinating. Least of all because I connect pretty hard with that sentiment - as it's mirrored my own experience with running.

If you often find yourself spending not insignificant amounts of time reading up articles on Runner's World, eclectic health facts, and running memoir
Malin Friess
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
-Researchers at the University of Arizona have shown increased levels of Endocannabinoids (the proposed runner's high) in the brain in humans following a run. Endocannabinoids are substances that bind to the same receptors in the brain as THC, the substance responsible for the marijuana high.
- Researchers propose that a feedback loop that occurs with the tapping of the runners foot against the ground shows increased activity as seen on the MRI in the brain that does not occur with cycling or sw
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think a lot of what is in this book is great information, but it is very dry and boring. I also felt a lot was dragged out to make the chapters and book longer, which wasn't needed. A lot of the information is kinda like, "duh, I knew that" especially if you are a running already. This is more in reference to the social aspect and benefits of running. I did learn a lot of good information about how anxiety and depression can be helped with running.
Elizabeth Germany
Great information that could easily apply to different forms of aerobic exercise. In fact, most of the studies sited didn't even use running in the study. Long story short, find the aerobic activity you enjoy the most, do it for at least 30 minutes a day most days and reap the benefits of a healthier mind and body.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading about the benefits of running that I intuitively knew. However, I found the author to be condescending and dismissive about other forms of cardio and weight lifting.
Sara E
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Very thought provoking to read. As a new runner of just over a year ago, in school for psychology and a mother of athletes this one was recommended at the perfect time! Highly Recommend!
Dasha M
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an immensely useful and hopeful book. I wish it was around years ago - though perhaps I wouldn't have been as responsive to it then. The research is compelling and reflects so much of my own personal experience with running. Best of all, it's not one of "those" self-help books which eschews medical forms of therapy (stop being depressed by smiling and being more positive!), rather, addresses strategies where running becomes a useful tool in conjunction with treatments like therapy and me ...more
Logan Yu
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
"Running Is My Therapy" feels like a long Runner's World article. It's very informative and the author shares some anecdotes from personal experience with depression and anecdotes from other runners. I wish the book delve more into the author's battle with depression and running.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up from the library, hoping it might interest my high school cross country running son. He wasn't interested at this time, but I chose to read it and enjoyed it quite a lot. I liked Scott Douglas' writing style (in my experience/opinion, journalists-do-not-always-authors-make, and I feel Douglas is an exception), and I also enjoyed reading both the research and the anecdotes. While I've never been any type of distance runner (though I've jogged a handful of 10Ks), Douglas insi ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I would say 3 1/2 stars too. Yes running is good for you and can help a lot. Some good notions, habits and ideas. Interesting discussion on the effects of anti-depressants on runners. A similar look at consumption of alcohol for runners. Good general ideas about mixing up running. Sometimes solo, sometimes with groups. Different distances different settings especially natural settings are better for your mind.
Becky Wade
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Running Is My Therapy is a thoughtful and important look at the strong link between running and mental health. I had hunches about ways that the two interact, but this book cemented their relationship and backed it up with both science and anecdotes. I found Douglas’ personal experiences especially insightful, not to mention honest and raw. I had a lot of “It’s not just me!” moments while reading Running Is My Therapy, and suspect that countless other runners will too.
Lilly  Minasyan
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good book overall.

"Experience and a growing body of research show that regular physical exercise is just as beneficial for your brain as it is for your heart, muscles, bones, and every other part of your body."

As a runner myself, I want to understand not only how running helps my body, but also my mental health. I have noticed personally that when I don't run for a long time, my mood is all over the place, I feel very meh, I don't want to do anything, I just want to lay and read, but whe
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 2003, my 42 year old cousin passed away from cancer. He was an avid runner, and each year took part in Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race. I decided to take up running after he passed so that I could keep running the race in his honor and memory. That decision led to an almost decade long love affair with running. Well, sometimes love, sometimes pure avarice, but I kept running. Through rain, winter weather, in Nikes, Vibrams, huaraches, and even bare feet. Then, somewhere around 2013 or so, I sto ...more
Jeff Koskinen
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title caught my eye, as I immediately felt that I “got” the concept. I hesitated to start it and questioned whether I could get much value or satisfaction from reading a book on a topic that I had already bought into and am already benefitting from. I am very glad that I read it.

What the author did was bring context and sound explanations to many of the good feelings and benefits that come through running. He goes into how the brain changes over time, the chemical reactions that occur during
Christopher Barry
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, running
This book dryly summarizes a lot of the research that proves what runners know: running helps improve our mood and is a valid way to manage depression. Most of the book is a recounting of the research and includes interviews with some of the researchers regarding exercise and mental health. It is not exciting to read.
I'll save you the time and summarize it:

1. The research shows that aerobic exercise done at a moderate intensity is most effective and exercise that is not aerobic (weight lifting)
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running, science, health
Good book with lots of studies to back up the claims. I wasn't convinced that running is a better overall exercise for mental health, but I do believe that enjoyable cardio, preferably in the outdoors, has great benefits. (Cross country skiing, for example, could fit in with many of the studies cited, though lap swimming in a pool probably not.)

I felt that the subtitle, "Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier," was a little too popular-reading feeling. L
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I have been wanting to read this book for awhile in order to better understand that affect of running on my anxiety/depression and vice versa. I was not too surprised to hear the benefits and I can't help but think this book is a good brain filler for when I doubt my abilities and don't feel like running. According to the book people who do 30 min of aerobic work out a day decrease their depression by 8%. That is enough information to hit the pavement. Every time you get out is better than just ...more
Richard Greene
Picked it up because of the title. Interested in how running positively affects mental health. Layout is similar to Spark. Difference here is Douglas replaces benefits of general activity with running, specifically. Lots of personal anecdotes in the book, which aren't as persuasive. Similar scientific references as Spark. Doesn't overpromise - author refers to personal use of medications and therapy in addition to running throughout. That said, after reading it, I'm more confident that running d ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounding up. Douglas is a seasoned runner, so beginning runners may not find some of his personal anecdotes very relatable, but he presents a lot of research about running's benefits to mental health, which makes this less a how-to self help sort of a read and more of a 'this is why it's good for you' one. I particularly like that he is realistic about not only the benefits but the limitations of running, and he spends a good amount of time talking about how running can be used in conjunctio ...more
Chrystall Jenkins
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve used the phrase/hashtag “running is my therapy” without ever knowing it was a book and a phrase that carried people just like me through the challenges of anxiety and/or depression.
It’s not saying it’s a substitute for medication or actual therapy. More like it’s a great addition to those options or for those who are able it can work as a substitute. It’s different for each person. It may change based on stages in your life.
I needed this book at this exact time in my life and as corny as
Aug 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
I guess this wasn't really my type of running book.

The author came off as kind of snobbish. For someone writing a book about running he seemed like he didn't like people who asked him questions about running.

If you are a 5K runner, don't bother wish this book. The author seems to barely mention 5K distances. Although in the beginning he does say, "if you run, you are a runner." But that's where it stops. Consistent mentioning of 10K and up and up (to ultramarathon distances) and training for ra
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked hearing the perspectives of other people who use running to manage their mental health as I tend to do the same thing. However, that being said, there wasn’t anything new or life-changing about this book. As the author points out, there is limited research on running and its effects on anxiety and depression, which is understandable since there’s really no financial gain for someone to fund these kinds of studies. But as someone who runs to keep my mental health under control, all the sc ...more
Lindsay Elliott
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this book was a really well researched and explained perspective on the science of how running can help mentally, personally anecdotes, and ways to benefit. I had thought it was going to be more personal anecdotes and focused in explanations of different methods to adopt (like breathing techniques, exercises, etc) and it certainly does, it can just get a little longer in technical information and research studies. But I found some of these to be interesting and more informative than expe ...more
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Scott Douglas is a contributing editor for Runner’s World. He has also been the editor of Running Times and Runner’s World’s news channel. Douglas has written or cowritten several other books, including the New York Times bestseller Meb for Mortals and perennial favorite Advanced Marathoning. He lives in South Portland, Maine.

There is more than one author with this name

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