About 7 months after having my second kid a few years ago, I decided to take up running. Honestly, this decision had nothing to do with mental health but everything to do with me wanting to play tag with my kids without any shortness of breath or feeling like I was going to collapse.
When I first started running I knew I had to get a new pair of running shoes because my old ones weren't going to cut it (they made my feet and shins hurt after walking for an extended period of time) so I bought a pair of these and I felt ready.
Turns out I wasn't ready at all and my first run with my brand new pumped-up kicks was a complete disaster. I managed to jog down the street a measly 100m (or less) before my legs burned and lungs felt like they were about to explode. It was pretty pathetic.
To help myself, and salvage my pride, I downloaded the C25K (Couch to 5K) app but, even so, it was still really hard for those first couple of weeks (I couldn't even run 30 seconds without struggling to breathe and feeling like I was going to die). I kept at it and followed the plan for about 6-7 weeks before I just started running as long as I could before having to stop. Turns out by then I was able to run 20-25 mins non-stop (!): a huge improvement from where I began. After about a year of running I ran 6K non-stop (which was such an accomplishment for me) after which I pumped my fist in the air, went home with a huge smile on my face, and then didn't run for months. I haven't done 6K again since lol.
I wouldn't say I love running because I don't (sometimes getting off my ass to go out for run is just so damn hard), but I do like the affect it has on me. Not only does it increase my endurance and overall health, it is also my "me time" (I generally run at night by myself near my house and with my cell phone in hand) and while I'm running my body goes on autopilot and I find I can think and reflect on things better too. And (who am I kidding?) slimming down, toning up, and getting leaner legs is a great plus too lol.
PLUS it turns out that choosing to run was bigger blessing than I originally thought because while I started running with only my physical health in mind, it also affects my mental health positively too. Running releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters which helps with my depression as well as my ADHD. (Here is another interesting article about the neurotransmitters that are involved with ADHD - all of which are affected with exercise/running.)
Anyway, I took a break from running when I got pregnant, but now that it's over I'm starting it up again! It's too beneficial for my mental health for me not to plus it will help me get back into shape after packing on all the pregnancy pounds. I'm no olympian (or high school track team member), but I'm getting out there and doing my thing so I'm happy with that.
If you're new to running and have no idea where to start, I'd recommend something like the C25K app to help you structure your running as a beginner. I'd also recommend investing in some clothing that wicks away sweat, especially during the summer. (I'm pretty cheap so most of my stuff is from Old Navy which I find works just fine.) During winters, I generally don't wear a jacket (I get too hot while running), but I do go out with a headband, gloves, and multiclava for my neck (which I wear as a headband during the warmer months) although if it's really cold I'll wear a fleece neckwarmer and I just won't run if it's colder than -12 degrees celsius. (I went out in -15 before and it was SO COLD).
I've really found running beneficial for me and love how easy it is to do (all you really need is a good pair of shoes). I'm already looking forward to the next time tie up my laces (although ask me again when I'm about to go for a run and I'll probably say something different, lol)!
p.s. Because I'm a visual person, here are the running shoes and accessories mentioned in this post in visual form. :)