To mark World Mental Health Day England Athletics are encouraging people to run and talk, breaking down stigma and improve their own mental wellbeing through running

During the week of 8th-14th October 2016 people across the country are being encouraged to run one mile or further and to have a chat with friends, family, colleagues or other runners at a time and location of their choice or by joining one of the organised runs at an England Athletics club or RunTogether group. 

Physical activity, particularly running, is also widely regarded as beneficial for mental health. We’re often told that physical activity is good for our bodies and our minds, but having a mental health problem can make it difficult to get started, for a number of reasons, ranging from negative body image, or a lack of self-esteem through to practical reasons such as having no one to go with, or not knowing where to get started. By spurring uptake of exercise, England Athletics hopes to increase people in starting, returning to or continuing to run.

The initiative also aims to open up discussion surrounding mental health, tackling stigma that has long surrounded the issue. Encouraging participants to share their own experiences, the #Runandtalk campaign is designed to support people in addressing concern and confusion, rather than bottle it all up.

The drive is supported by the mental health charity Mind. Hayley Jarvis, Community Programmes Manager (Sport) at the charity, said: “Mind is delighted to support England Athletics and the #runandtalk initiative. It’s well known that regular exercise is good for our bodies – and there’s good evidence that being active improves our mental wellbeing too.

Mental health problems are more common than people think with one in four people experiencing one each year. #runandtalk is a great initiative that everyone can get involved with to support their own mental health, while meeting others in their local community.”

Liz Purbrick, National Disability Manager at England Athletics said: “We are really pleased to be supporting World Mental Health Day with #runandtalk, along with our Mental Health Ambassador Programme. We hope that #runandtalk will help to breakdown some of the stigma attached to mental health and support people to access the social, physical and mental wellbeing benefits that running can bring.” Running is one of the most accessible and low cost ways to be active and meet government recommendations to be moderately active for at least 150 minutes per week.

Whether it’s to get fit, improve health, make friends or take on a challenge running has something to offer everyone.

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