Mental Health Benefits of Running
At Shelton Striders we are passionate about the benefits that running can contribute to a person’s mental health, something that fits perfectly with our long standing club motto: ‘We run for fitness, friends and fun’
What is Mental Health?
Mental Health is defined as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” (World Health Organisation)
Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They affect around one in four people in Britain, and range from common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it.
How can running help?
Research has shown that running, and other kinds of physical exercise, have a positive impact on mental health. This is leading to more and more health professionals prescribing exercise to people experiencing mental health problems, instead of or alongside medication or talking treatments.
As well as releasing natural endorphins that make us feel good, using running to get fit and achieve personal goals, is a great way to improve confidence and self-esteem. Doing it as part of a club or group gets people out in the fresh air, which also has a positive impact on mood, and helps to make new friends in a supportive atmosphere.
Mental Health Ambassadors (MHAs)
At Striders, we have numerous members for whom running has had a positive impact on their mind as well as their body. But, we also know that having a mental health problem can make it difficult to get started for reasons ranging from negative body image, low self-esteem and/or negative thoughts through to practical reasons such as having no one to go with and not knowing where to get started.
With this in mind, four of our long standing members have been appointed by England Athletics as Mental Health Ambassadors (MHA’s), as part of a nationwide network. The role of the MHA’s it to:
• Work within the club to support members to improve their mental health through running.
• Support new people to start running, get back into running or continuing running.
Who are the Shelton Striders MHAs?
If you want more information or advice on exercise and mental health, are thinking about coming to the club but are apprehensive about it, or are just looking for someone to have a run and chat with, the Ambassadors will be able to help. Although they are not able to give professional medical advice, they can provide information on where such advice can be obtained.
What are we currently doing?
#runandtalk: We recently held our first #runandtalk event, to coincide with World Mental Health Day. The evening was open to non-members of all abilities, as well as existing members, and included some short talks on the benefits as running, social group runs and an opportunity to chat more over a brew and a cake afterwards. The evening was well received and we are planning to hold another in the new year.
As well as these arranged events, we are promoting the idea of #runandtalk in general, both on our Friday club runs and training runs that our members organise between themselves on an informal basis.
Information: This page is the first step in providing more information on the mental health benefits of running and exercise in general. We hope to develop this further over the coming months.
Derbyshire Mind: We are developing a close relationship with Derbyshire Mind, who are a local independent charity, affiliated with the national Mind charity. This includes both supporting their ‘Enjoying Derby’ organised walks through funds raised by our new Trail Race (Brooksie’s Bash), as well as working with them to help people who would like to try running.
Ideas and getting involved
We hope to develop our Mental Health action plan further over the coming months. If you have any ideas for things that we can do, or would like to help organise something, please let one of the Ambassadors know.