Today is recognised as World Mental Health Day and in support I have written a post about the connection between mental health and exercise as a release. There are many different types of mental health illnesses that range from anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, depression and many more. It is well known that exercise releases endorphins as well as other chemicals such as serotonin and adrenaline. Endorphins are the bodies natural feel good chemical which mean that your mood should heighten as it creates a positive feeling in the body.
In recent years there has been far more media coverage on mental health awareness with many celebrities and famous sports personalities talking about their experiences. Experiences that may be their own or people that they care about and are close to. It should not be a taboo subject or brushed under the carpet and the figures below should hopefully explain why (all statistics were taken from the Mental Health Foundation).
- 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
- In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
- In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
- In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK.
- Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
There are many mental health charities and one such as Mind are working with the England Athletics association by employing Mental Health Ambassadors within the association as well as starting a campaign called #runandtalk – Run and talk is a way for people to get out running and talk to people. Exercise is a proven remedy for stress and anxiety which covers the running part and then making it a way to talk to other people in a neutral environment with at least one common interest. NHS Choices includes exercise as one of it’s alternatives to antidepressants, so it’s not just charities that believe in the power of exercise.
It’s also not just running groups that are behind Mental Health awareness, the swim group Swim Dem Crew recently released a video which you can watch here. To me swimming has always been a time where I can be alone with my thoughts to think things through properly in my own time or even forget all my thoughts whilst I emerge myself in the water away from everyone else. Regardless of which sport you do or the type of exercise you carry out just getting out there, even if it is solo exercise has many benefits in terms of general health and fitness. It’s not just about turning up and running your best 5km every week it should be about meeting like minded people and getting better as an athlete along with others. How would any of us improve if we didn’t talk to each other and share our experiences and advice?
So this week at least and going forward if you can join the movement and at the next group exercise class, run club or football match you go to, go and introduce yourself to someone new or try to have a conversation with someone other than the person you perhaps came with! These clubs may be a persons one chance to speak to people outside of their work or family life. It may be the one thing that they feel they are good at or can achieve, often for many of us it is an achievement just going so give yourself a pat on the back for turning up and talk to someone about their day. I will also ensure that I do the same 🙂