Push to get people active on World Mental Health Day

Katie Haseldine

PEOPLE with mental health problems have been urged to reap the benefits of physical exercise as the 25th World Mental Health Day was marked on October 10.

Since the campaign by the World Health Organisation began in 1992, there has been a push to raise awareness about mental health, and remove the stigma around it, to get people talking.

GPs can also now give out gym referrals to patients sufferings from anxiety or depression. This means that people struggling with their mental health can benefit from physical exercise by getting active on the NHS.

Halifax fitness instructor, Matt Doyle, runs group classes and tailor-made personal training sessions for members at Xplosive Fitness.

Talking about the benefits he found from his own workouts, he said: “It’s a very positive distraction… I feel happy and relaxed after a workout.”

Matt emphasises how it is important to find a gym where you feel comfortable training, saying: “Whether I’m training with friends or with my headphones on, I’m equally happy.”

He said anything from “lifting weights and cardio work” to “hitting a punch bag or going for a hard run” are all ways that can help beat any feelings of anxiety or stress.

Leeds Mind is a mental health charity in Yorkshire that runs services for anybody who feels that they would be beneficial to them.

These services include wellbeing social group activities such as gardening, creative writing, and textiles groups, and are free to join.

Although there are no current schemes which promote physical exercise for individuals struggling with their mental health, a spokesperson for the organisation said that they are definitely considering starting one in the future.

She said: “Being active is certainly beneficial to a healthy mind, as physical exercise and mental health go hand-in-hand.”

Many celebrities have also said that exercise and keeping fit has helped them to overcome personal struggles, improving their confidence and mental health.

Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding and Khloe Kardashian are just a few of the showbiz stars who claim to retreat to the gym when things get stressful.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, the Samaritans offer a 24 hour helpline – 116 123.

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