Run Leader Lucy on the positive effect exercise can have on your mental health

14976442_678332088997133_6644250442383001438_o (003)

I’m Lucy and I’m very proud to be an England Athletics Run Leader and Mental Health Ambassador. I have been working in the fitness industry for many years but I also exercise regularly for my own personal wellbeing.

I love running. For me, it’s that time away from everything else, time for me and time to clear my head.

It doesn’t need to take up too much time and I can go when it fits in with my day. No fancy gyms or equipment are needed, just a pair of trainers! Exercise never fails to lift my mood and leaves me feeling positive and stronger; both mentally and physically.

So to become a Run Leader seemed a natural progression. It has given me the opportunity to pass on this love of running to others. It’s important to me to create an encouraging and supportive environment where people feel comfortable to come along and join in whatever their shape, size or ability.

Running with others in a group can lead to so much more than just improving our physical wellbeing. It’s a chance to laugh and chat together and off load on how we are feeling.

As a Run Leader,  it’s very rewarding to see people growing in confidence, developing friendships through running and leaving a session feeling good about themselves.

week 4 (002)

However, it can take a lot of courage to take that first step and join a new group, and can be an even bigger challenge for anyone suffering with their mental health. Hopefully in my role as a Mental Health Ambassador I can make it easier and provide that extra bit of support.

It can just be simple things that can make so much difference.

I recently arranged to meet one lady who suffers with social anxiety at the gate and walk in with her to join the run group. It was a huge challenge for her to walk into a new situation on her own but by chatting and walking in together it made it less daunting. It’s about taking little steps, finding something you enjoy and then giving it time.  There will be challenges to be faced but by opening up a two way conversation we can start to make those changes and progress.  In my role as a Mental Health Ambassador, it is so rewarding to see these little steps gradually being achieved.

The Heads Together campaign and my role as a Mental Health Ambassador have made me realise how important exercise is in dealing with our mental wellbeing.

As a Run Leader I have always asked about any injuries people may have and focused on the physical side, but it has made me realise that we also need to consider a person’s mental wellbeing. The two should run side by side.

Hopefully, as a result of campaigns like Heads Together, we can get to a stage when someone joins a new group that they can openly say, ‘I have a problem with my right knee and I suffer with my mental health’.

As a Run Leader and Mental Health Ambassador I want people to know that we all face challenges and difficulties. If we can break down those barriers and the stigma surrounding mental health and get the conversation going then so much can be achieved.


Interested in joining a running group? Have a look at RunTogether.