Residents in Sandwell and West Birmingham are being encouraged to get on their boots and walk away the winter blues. Walking can help to fight off stress and depression which can hit many people hard in January.
Walking, like other physical activities, releases endorphins which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. So, active people have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression.
Spending time in the outdoors and in contact with the natural environment – for example by walking in parks, woodland and green spaces – can have a positive effect on mental health. Walking in a group is a sociable activity that can help improve mental health and overcome feelings of isolation.
Evidence suggests that walking 10 minutes a day can make a difference, which means that it’s not all about big walks in the country, or walking lots of miles. Everyone can start at their own pace, with a few minutes of additional walking and then increase this over time.
30-year-old Jake Tyler was plagued by anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. He calls it the “darkest state of mind” he’d ever been in and feared he would never recover. But then something twigged:
“I’d started working on my physical fitness, and whenever I’d spend time outdoors I realised the positive impact that being immersed in nature was giving me. Which got me thinking: if something as simple as taking a walk and encountering the natural beauty of this country can make me feel so much better, why don’t more people do this? So I decided to do something about it."
Jake embarked on an incredible 3,000-mile walk that started in Brighton and spanned the length and breadth of the British Isles, Jake says, “When you decide that you need to get outside, even if it's just to walk down to the end of the road, that brings the control back to you. You can build from there.”
Dr Nick Harding, Chair at NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“A good walk can literally do wonders for our mental wellbeing. When we exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released in the brain, which have a positive impact on our mood. Exercise also produces hormones that can improve sleep, help release muscle tension and reduce inflammation.
“Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.
“Walking is the lowest risk of all physical activities, yet produces massive benefits to physical fitness and mental wellbeing. It is a great way to explore your local area, make new friends and learn more about your immediate community.”
To find out more information about walking for your health, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx
Walking for Health is a great way to start walking and make new friends at the same time. Watch this special video to find out more at https://bit.ly/2Rn3Tmo
The Walking for Health scheme offers over 1,800 free, short walks every week. Details of local health walks are available at https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/
Ramblers UK run hundreds of walks a week from short urban strolls to long walks in the countryside. Check out local walks by searching by postcode at https://www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking.aspx