Jon Neal takes on the 2.6 challenge for Suffolk Mind
Suffolk Mind CEO, Jon Neal explains the benefits of movement on your mental health as he takes part in the 2.6 challenge.
During Mental Health Week I’ll be finishing the TwoPointSixChallenge – a national campaign launched by a number of charities and fundraisers in response to marathons being cancelled. The idea is you do something related to 26 or 2.6 or multiples of those. It could be anything. I decided to run 2.6k every day for 26 days…and given I do very little exercise at the best of times, it was certainly going to be a challenge.
As I approach the end, I’m definitely fitter than I was when I started, but my mental health is also better.
When we exercise our bodies release endorphins to reward us. It’s the ‘feel good’ hormone, and it’s partly why we feel good after exercise – even if the exercise itself is tough. We also meet our emotional need for achievement – being stretched and challenged, and feeling competent at something.
One of the unexpected benefits of running at 6.30am over the last few weeks has actually been the social interaction I’ve experienced. People who I only see on Zoom or Teams calls at the moment and who I had no idea lived close to me are out walking their dogs or also running at that time. And it’s helped me feel connected to something familiar in the outside world again.
My legs are begging me to stop when I reach 26 days, but perhaps I’ll continue for a bit longer. Maybe just not every day. But as an unfit person before lockdown, I would encourage anyone considering doing a bit of exercise perhaps for the first time, to just get out there and run a few metres each day. Even if it is literally up and down your street once. Maybe the second week you could do it twice…and then, who knows…2.6k or 26k!
Author: Ellie Winch