Project to get people with mental or physical health problems competing in Great East Run
- Credit: Archant
Running is not only good for the body, but it is also proven to have huge benefits for the mind.
This summer 24 Suffolk people who are inactive or suffering from a physical or mental health condition have the opportunity to take part in an exclusive training programme in Ipswich, with the aim of completing the first Great East Run half marathon in September.
The link between psychological wellbeing and exercise was brought to the forefront this week with the launch of the new BBC series Mind over Marathon, which follows the journeys of 10 people affected by mental illness as they train for the London Marathon.
It features appearances from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who has recently opened up about the impact of his mother’s death on his own mental health and how boxing helped him through it.
The Great East Run outreach project, run by Suffolk Sport and Suffolk County Council (SCC), is open to individuals between the ages of 17 and 25 and those who are over 50, with just 12 places available in each category.
Adam Baker, who is leading SCC’s campaign to become the most active county in England, said: “Physical inactivity is a major problem not only in Suffolk but nationally.
“We are a nation of people who are increasingly becoming less active and that has lots of implications in terms of physical and mental health, which then has lots of implications for the health care service and adult social care.
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“If we can become more active as individuals and as a county there will be benefits not only for the individual but for society as a whole.
“A programme like this can help people from all sorts of backgrounds and running is an easy thing to get involved in, it’s very accessible.”
Participants pay £30 and will receive weekly coaching sessions created by Olympic long distance runner Paul Evans, discount on running gear at Coes in Ipswich, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning classes with Allied Health Professionals, life coaching with a team at the Blossom charity, diet and nutrition support from One Life Suffolk and entry to the Great East Run - a fantastic opportunity as all 3,000 places have now sold out.
John Clough, director of Suffolk Sport, said: “Events like this offer more than just fitness benefits, they create community groups and support networks for those who need it the most.
“Many reports have concluded that being active has a positive impact on depression and anxiety, empowering individuals and making a difference to the quality of their lives.”
To apply for a place in the programme, see here.
Why exercise is good for the mind
Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at charity Suffolk Mind, has explained why exercise is good for psychological wellbeing.
He said: “When we do enough exercise to get our heart rate up, we experience pleasure in the form of endorphins. Endorphins are the natural pleasure chemicals released by our brains which boost feelings of wellbeing. Endorphins give us a natural ‘high’ or a rush, sometimes known as runner’s high. This is why we may feel more energised or optimistic about the future after doing exercise.
“Because exercise lifts our mood, tests have shown that physical exercise can be as effective as anti-depressant medication in lifting low mood. Other benefits include the relief of physical pain, because endorphins also have an analgesic effect – endorphins work in the same way as some pain relief medicines.”
Mr Hewing said exercise also helped people burn off the stress hormone, cortisol.