Running does wonders for body and mind

People of all ages with mental health issues have been getting active at a weekly running club

“At the end they say ‘wow, I’ve done it’,” says running coach Deborah Hope, describing the beaming smiles on faces.

Running for My Mind has made a difference to the hearts and minds of almost 30 people so far from as young as 15 to 70.

Run by Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind and supported with £3,900 of Small Grants funding, a weekly running club for people with mental health issues has flourished.

Couch to 5k

Run as four 12-week courses, the premise is simple: couch to 5k.

The weekly runners end their 12 weeks by taking part in a 5k Parkrun, run at their own pace, and some have been back for more since completing the milestone distance.

“It’s such a great achievement for them,” says Deborah, a former triathlete.

Exercising with other people means you’re sharing the same experience and it can help you forget the negative in your mind

Deborah Hope, running coach

“At first, a few people were asking, ‘where’s that buzz you get from running?’ They weren’t feeling it. I said, ‘it will come’.

“After a while, they said ‘I can feel it now’. They felt really great afterwards.

“We had one lady who cancelled her holiday to come and run.

“With some people, it’s helped with their sleeping. It’s been really positive.”

Explaining the benefits

Explaining some of the benefits of getting active, Deborah adds: “Exercise releases feel-good endorphins.

“Doing it with other people means you’re sharing the same experience and it can help you forget the negative in your mind and replace it with the positive.

“There’s the social side as well – it helps with confidence and anxiety.”

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