Exercise and Mental Health

I have suffered from anxiety issues since I was a teenager and have had a few flair ups over the years, the latest being through my Dad’s illness, death and aftermath. I was prescribed anti-depressants with an aim of being on these for a short period and had a number of one-to-one CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions. I have being reducing my medication gradually month by month (with my GP’s supervision) and as of last week I have come off completely.

Neither my Husband or I drive so we walk practically everywhere and if you read my weekly food round ups you will have probably read I go swimming with my Mum at least once a week. I have enjoyed these forms of exercise but felt I needed something that got my heart pumping a bit more. I have also wanted to get into running but have been pretty terrible at it (!) so I was really excited when I started reading about Couch to 5k.

If you aren’t aware this is a nine week programme developed by the NHS which aims to get you running for 30 minutes but the end of it. In week one you start by running for 60 seconds followed by 90 seconds this alternates for 20 minutes. This builds up so you are doing more running and less walking each week. You do three runs a week before you move on to the next week. You can download podcasts and a friendly voice called Laura tells you when to run  and when to walk as well as giving lots of tips and encouragement. (If you download the app you get a choice of “voices” and can play your own music). There is also this forum where you can chat to other participants and gain and give advice.

I have just finished week four where I have been running for 3 minutes, walking for 90 seconds, running for 5 minutes then walking for 2 1/2 minutes and repeating the cycle. Before the first run this week I was really anxious as to whether I would be able to run for that amount of time but I just took it slow and steady and I did it! It does get easier as you build up stamina and run longer with more ease each week.

There is a park less than a minute from my flat where I run. Not only do the endorphins I get from running help with my mood and general mental health, I think being in a natural setting with lots of green and trees helps too, something I wouldn’t get from being on a treadmill in a gym. I also enjoy seeing all the dogs in the park even if I am sure some of them are on a mission to trip me up! I enjoy seeing the other joggers in the park too and I am tempted to high five them as we pass eachother although I haven’t gained the courage to try it just yet!

I’m really encouraged by how far I’ve come. Once I’ve completed the programme I’m going to start doing Parkrun. These are 5k runs which are held in parks all round the country every Saturday and are completely free to enter. I took part in one in 2012 and thought never again! But now I’m building up my stamina slowly week by week I’m sure it’ll be more manageable this time around!


What are your favourites forms of exercise? Have you tried anything new to you recently?

Plumes x


Exercise and Mental Health