Mental Health and Exercise - family fun at the Ely Festive 5k

One of the things I love about living in Ely is that there seems to always be something going on. And that means lots of opportunities for family fun with my girls.

This weekend was a big one in our household because as well as my normal bootcamp and full day of clients on Saturday, my eldest daughter also performed on stage with her school choir and the highly acclaimed Witchford Voices choir. It was a brilliant evening and a proud moment to see my daughter standing up on stage and confidently singing her heart out in front of about 250 people. The grand finale featuring both choirs was a version of 'Africa' (the 1980s hit song by Toto) and was exceptional. 

Then Sunday morning it was up and ready and heading to the start line with about 600 others for the Ely Festive 5k, a fun run around the streets of Ely in aid of the Arthur Rank Hospice charity, who support people in Cambridgeshire living with a life-limiting illness. A fantastic cause I'm sure you'll agree. And a great excuse to dress as Santa and go for a run with my daughter!

Now if you've taken a look around my website, you'll know that I love exercise (or at least I love the feeling having completed a marathon or a tough bootcamp session!). I started exercising years ago because I was grossly overweight into my teens and hated being fat. Of course, with the anxiety I had back then I soon also discovered that good mental health and exercise go hand in hand. 

Here I am with my daughters a few minutes before the start of the race:

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A quick photo before the run! It gets pretty warm under that beard (and you can eat a lot of cotton wool over 5k!) 

Mental Health and Exercise

Last week I was watching a talk by a member of the Brain & Mind Centre of the University of Sydney about exercise and mental health.  As I think most of us recognise, the modern world provides more and more opportunities for a sedentary lifestyle in everything from our use of cars to how we spend our spare time watching TV, surfing the net or playing video games. There have probably never been so many opportunities to move so little.

Of course, we also know that moving so little is linked to many conditions such as obesity and other health impacting conditions. This can create an environment where mental and physical health problems exacerbate each other meaning people do less and their mental health deteriorates leading to doing less and so on.

And the evidence continues to demonstrate that exercise is good not only for our physical health but also our mental health too.  The evidence suggests that exercise is linked with improvements in mental health such as mood elevation (for example, helping with anxiety and depression), as well as self-esteem enhancement. In fact, the benefits are so great that I will often encourage my clients (if they don't exercise already) to get out each day for at least a ten or fifteen minute walk. This in itself can start to help with anxiety and depression, although in my experience, it is key to factor in strategies to make sure that during the walks, a person is more focused on what they can see and hear around them rather than continuing to dwell on internal thoughts and feelings. 

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A sea of Santas at the Ely Festive 5k 2017 

Now I know for some people the word 'exercise' immediately makes them want to take cover. I get that completely - I hated exercise (games/PE) at school and would do anything to try and get out of it. It's no fun running cross country in hail stones or trying to tackle someone when you can't even feel your fingers due to the cold (the whole time having a sports teacher shouting in your ear and telling you to get on with it!). But of course, exercise just means anything that gets you to move your body to use up energy. It could be walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, aerobics or anything else. There are no so many options out there that there just has to be something that you will enjoy and stick to.

Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, and can help alleviate low self-esteem. Good mental health and exercise go hand in hand and you can derive the benefits from just a few brisk walks each week.

And who knows, maybe this time next year I'll see you in your Santa hat standing beside me at the Ely Festive 5k! Hope to see you there! 

ely festive 5k dan regan ely hypnotherapy

To your health and happiness,

Dan Regan


Has this article about mental health and exercise resonated with you? If so, you may be interested to look here: 

1. If your anxiety or depression are ruling your life then maybe it's time to seek help to overcome them? Or maybe you want to boost your confidence and self-esteem? Find out more: Hypnotherapy with Dan Regan

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3. Wondering what other people have said after working with Dan to overcome their anxiety and improve their mental health? Read the reviews: What People Say