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By Martin Horbury | 13.05.24

Moving more for my mental health

To celebrate this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme ‘Movement: moving more for our mental health’, I wanted to share my running journey with you, and how it’s supported my own wellbeing.

I am lucky that I am one of those people who enjoys running. As a keen club runner for nearly thirty years, I have travelled all over the north of England taking part in competitions. The social part of running with team mates is something I have particularly enjoyed.

I have been very aware of how running has impacted my overall wellbeing, and in my time working in the mental health and wellbeing sector, its effect on my wider mental health. When running with friends, I get the feeling of strength, unity, and a common purpose - but also to chat, offload and put the world to rights. When I run alone, it gives me the space to work through whatever is going round my head that day.

When running with friends, I get the feeling of strength, unity, and a common purpose.

In a recent seminar, it was highlighted how a positive self-identity is often a key component to good mental health. It struck me how often I would describe myself as a runner when I first meet people. This is interesting, because I’m also a husband, father and an accountant. Running has enriched my life, giving me a sense of purpose as I train for events, and set targets and goals both on a day-to-day and long-term basis.

We’re currently in the midst of marathon season, with high profile races taking place around the UK - with London, Manchester and Edinburgh amongst the most high profile. This weekend has seen the second Rob Burrow marathon, with over 12,000 runners taking to the streets of Leeds.

This time of year is also popular for running clubs to hold beginners classes to support people who want to get involved with running. These sessions often use a similar concept to Couch to 5K. Developed by a new runner, Josh Clark, this initiative was set up to support his 50-something mum to get off the couch and start running. The plan is a great way for beginners, as well as those wanting to return to fitness, to gradually work up towards running 5km in just 9 weeks.

There are many ways in which exercise can boost your mental health. From a behavioural perspective, those who run often experience ‘runner’s high’, which is often associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study has also shown that the antidepressant affect of running is associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus – an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

If you like the idea of being involved in a running community, your local parkrun is a great way to do this. Parkrun is a free community event, where you can walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate. They take place every Saturday morning at 9am, offering a welcome and inclusive environment, with no time limits.

It brilliant to see movement being recognised during this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week. There are a huge amount of benefits to getting active for your wellbeing, and I hope this might inspire you to add some running to your life.

How do you move more for your mental health? Let us know @NorthpointMH

Guest blog by Martin Horbury, our Director of Finance



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