From 13-19 May, the Mental Health Foundation are hosting ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’; and at British Triathlon we want to highlight the ways in which being involved in physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
We’ve had a chat with Hannah Brooks, British Triathlon’s performance psychologist from the English Institute of Sport, and she’s given us some insight into the links between physical activity and mental wellbeing:
"When we take part in physical activity there are several changes in our brain that may lead to improvements in mental wellbeing. These include an increase in the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain, and an increase in the release and receptivity of neurochemicals such as serotonin and beta-endorphins (these are currently linked to the so-called ‘runners high’).
When we are intrinsically motivated to take part (for personal growth and enjoyment), training and events can provide achievable goals to work towards that can improve our wellbeing. Setting realistic targets that form part of a bigger goal – training goals leading up to an event goal – can help to maintain motivation and lead to an increase in confidence throughout a training programme.
As well as taking part in physical activity, there is also research showing that being exposed to ‘natural blues’ (e.g. sky and open water) and ‘natural greens’ (e.g. grass and trees), can enhance our mental wellbeing. Getting out and about into these ‘natural blues and greens’ – often a requirement of triathlon training - can enhance our mental wellbeing. Also, as humans, one of our basic psychological needs is to spend time with others. So, whether it’s participating in group training activities, taking part or volunteering at an event or getting involved in club social activities can all provide the human connection that can also see our mental wellbeing improve."
For more information about the positive impacts of physical exercise on mental wellbeing, visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website. To find out how access mental health support and services in your local area, click here to view NHS advice and further links.
There are a range of opportunities open to you to get involved in triathlon. Whether that’s joining a club, finding an event near you or searching for training activities, there are lots of easy ways to get involved