Looking after mental health and well-being seems more challenging than ever, as the country transit lockdown 2.0 and what seems to be an uncertain winter. Athletes and new scientific research advocate for performing outdoor exercises to ease anxiety and depression.
Clive Castillo, Basketball Team Coach of the University of Westminster Dragons Team, referred to sports as a major escape during lockdown.
“Mental health is directly proportional to physical health and being outdoors can help one get better. It imbibes positivity and keeps you happy. It is really important that we find ways to be active even in these difficult times and make a difference to your well-being”, he said.
Jen Uribe, Personal Trainer at Anytime Fitness Gym, also believes that workouts can really boost your mood: “Exercise of any form is vital as it releases endorphins which are happy hormones. It has a huge impact on people’s mental health especially during isolation”.
For those who haven’t workout before, but want to start her advice is to take small steps.
“Set yourself goals and follow up. For example, instead of running 10 km in one go, start with 2 km, then 3 km, 5 km, and build up until you’ve reached your goal. It is much more sustainable than jumping right into the deep end”, she said.
According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, running for 15 minutes a day has a similar effect on our mental health as to walking for an hour.
Sport enthusiast, Siddy Holloway, who has participated in the Royal Parks half marathon, The Big Half amongst others, was going to break the ice this year with her first full marathon. Holloway said: “I managed to get a place in the London marathon, which is one of the most difficult in the world to secure a spot in, but of course, because of Covid-19 that got cancelled”.
However, she didn’t stop training. During both lockdowns, she kept her routine of running 4-5 times a week and she found it to be a massive stress-reliever.
“There is something almost hypnotic about running when you settle into a rhythm of breathing and you manage to keep a pace. You feel very alive, you feel the blood pumping through your body and somehow negative emotions or thoughts don’t have space in your head anymore. You leave it all on the road. That’s the beauty of running”, she said.
When asked about the best places to go for a run, Ms. Holloway recommended some spots around her neighbourhood in south-west London including the Thames Path, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common: “Another favourite of mine is Primrose Hill and Regents Park. But if you’re looking for some serious hills to work out on, head to Greenwich Park”.