Northamptonshire Sport supports Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
Posted: Sat, 08 May 2021 11:46
Monday 10th May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. To support the campaign we (Northamptonshire Sport) are highlighting some of the great ways to connect with nature and be more active in Northamptonshire. We're also sharing some moving personal stories from people who manage their mental health by being outside and getting active.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the annual event aims to promote 'good mental health for all'. Each year the campaign centres around a theme. This time, the theme is 'nature' and 'connecting with nature' to improve mental health.
There's never been a more important time to protect and care for our mental health. The knock-on effects of COVID-19 have increased mental health problems. Research conducted by mental health charity MIND, found that "more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) have said their mental health got worse during lockdown".
Meanwhile, the Active Lives survey by Sport England, reported that during the initial phase of the pandemic "happiness was down, anxiety was up." Amongst many things, restrictions on the amount of physical activity allowed and the ways to be physically active was thought to be a contributing factor to diminishing happiness levels.
Given the strong links between sport and physical activity and positive mental health, we rounded up some great ways in Northamptonshire to connect with nature, improve mental health and be more active too.
Jogging and running
Some people love the feeling of exhilaration and freedom running creates. With plenty of fresh air and pumping muscles, it's easy to understand why running is recognised as a great stress reliever.
But, the idea of beginning running and jogging can seem a bit daunting at first. Although, with small steps (or jogs) you'll be amazed how quickly you can progress. With a plan in place and the right support and advice - the 'sky is the limit'. Jog Groups are a great place to start running and jogging, there are many in Northamptonshire. Jog Northants is a countywide programme aimed at helping beginners start jogging. We offer many jogging groups throughout Northamptonshire to help those who are new to running, or have not exercised in a long time. Find your local group.
Inspired to run? Read Catherine's story
Running and jogging isn't for everyone. If walking is more your speed or you just prefer a gentle pace, there are lots of free short group walks locally. The group walks are designed to help you get and stay active at a pace that works for you. It's a great way to stretch your legs, explore what's on your doorstep, and make new friends. Find out more about health walks
If you'd prefer to organise your own walks, local walking group Northamptonshire Walks, has many routes for you to follow. You can also find out more about the group founder and leader Dave Askew and his journey to better mental and physical health through walking.
Inspired to get walking? Read Dave's story
Open water swimming
Would you like to try something new? Perhaps in this currently restrictive world, you long for a sense of freedom. Open water swimming is a fabulous way to submerge yourself (literally) in nature and get active too. Open water swim sessions are held at the beautiful Sywell Country Park on Saturday mornings and Daventry Country Park on Sunday mornings. Find out more about open water swimming.
Inspired to try open water swimming? Read Sarah's story
Ping! at Salcey Forest
Ping! takes ping pong into public places, you'll find two tables nestled amongst the trees in Salcey Forest.
Table Tennis is a fantastic sport that can be played by anyone, regardless of gender, age, disability or background. Although the sport is considered a low impact activity, it provides physical, mental and social benefits to players. Regular table tennis participation can also reduce the risk of depression, stress and anxiety - It's the perfect way to connect with nature, get some exercise and above all - have some fun!
Find out more about Ping! at Salcey Forest
Have you tried any of the suggestions? We'd love to hear about your experiences. Connect with us on social media.