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Sunday, 23 January 2022

Over a third of Brits say exercise has helped talk about their mental health

FROM the survey of 2,001 people commissioned by mental health charity Mind, 38% of men, 40% of women and just over three in five (62%) Brits aged 16-24 years old said that exercise has provided the opportunity to have conversations about mental health once or on multiple occasions. More than a third of people (35%) also said that exercise makes them feel comfortable enough to have conversations or open up about their mental health. 

The new research highlights that exercise can be good for our mental health as well as our physical health, which is why Mind is inviting the public to take part in Move for Mind – a 30-day exercise and fundraising challenge – to start a healthy new habit. The initiative will raise vital funds for mental health services, including Mind Infoline and online peer support platform, Side by Side. Move for Mind has, so far, raised over £650,000 for Mind.

Physical activity can help maintain positive mental health in many ways, either on its own or in combination with other treatments. Whether it is jogging in the local park, dancing around the living room, or doing some gentle yoga, physical activity is personal. Move for Mind is about choosing an activity and a pace that works for each individual. The 30 days of movement can be carried out anytime between now and 2 March 2022, with active rest days encouraged throughout to allow time for the body and mind to recover.

Katie Wilson, 43, from Maidenhead, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2005 after experiencing severe depressive episodes, during the first of which she tried to take her own life. Katie receives good support from her local mental health team, psychiatrist, and social care worker, and credits exercise as having a very positive impact on her mental health.

The mum of two took part in Move for Mind last year and completed 22 different activities, some alongside other people, to raise nearly £3,000 for Mind. She is challenging herself to Move for Mind again in January 2022.

Katie said:

“Exercise gives me hope, fulfilment and a sense of purpose. It clears my head, gets me outdoors, and allows me to spend time with my friends, where I can have conversations about managing mental health in a positive way. Taking part in Move for Mind was a godsend for me. I ended up doing 22 different activities in 40 days – everything from paddleboarding to Thai boxing, kayaking to Zumba. I was exercising three to four times a week after the first week, which I think was more sustainable in the long term, and there were around 11 things I hadn’t done before. I involved more than 50 people in my activities and I coached people as we went along.”

Katie also completed Move for Mind in January 2021, battling through national lockdown restrictions, she added:

“I focused on walking, often with the kids on their scooters alongside me. It was great for them to see me doing it, getting out and appreciating the importance of exercise. I’m doing it again because it’s provided me with so much joy and achievement, especially taking part with all my friends and family.”

Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, said:

“More than ever, we need to exercise for our mental health. I feel amazing after a long bike ride, beating my 5K run personal best or, a sweaty HIIT session! In the past year or so, I’ve also learned to appreciate the benefits of more gentle movement and the positive effect that can have on my wellbeing.

“Whether you get outside for a walk or make time for a five-minute stretch – moving your body will lift your mood. That’s why I’m so proud to support Move for Mind. It’s a perfect opportunity to find a movement that works for you while raising vital funds for an important cause.

“Doing PE with Joe reminded me that I love to exercise because of the community it builds and the support it can give us. Mind found that too, with more than a third of Brits (39%) reporting that exercise has given them an opportunity to talk about their mental health in the last six months.

“Campaigns like Move for Mind can help us make that number even higher. Challenge yourself to try something different each week. Can you be more active today? Can you move your body for just 20 minutes? Grab your family and friends, get those endorphins flowing and build a healthy habit for 2022. Whilst you’re at it, let’s have a chat about our mental health too. Let’s Move for Mind this 2022!”

Kathleen Miles, Director of Fundraising at Mind, added:

“By taking part in Move for Mind, not only will you be starting up a healthy habit, but you’ll be joining us in the fight for mental health too. The pandemic has had a lasting impact on our mental health, especially for those of us with existing mental health problems, and so many of us aren’t getting the support we need. The money raised through Move for Mind will support Mind’s Infoline, giving someone a voice to talk to when things are too much, keep our online community Side by Side open for anyone feeling isolated, and help us to keep pushing people in power to protect our rights and support our needs.”

Sign-up for free, now until 31 January 2022 at mind.org.uk/moveformind22. Complete the 30 days by 2 March 2022.

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