Suffolk Mind and Active Suffolk join forces to encourage more women into physical activity
Mental health charity Suffolk Mind and Active Suffolk have teamed up to help support more local women and girls to participate in physical activity over the winter months. It’s after figures show that the gender gap has widened significantly. Currently 22% of women are achieving 30 minutes of physical activity 5 times per week, compared to 35% during April of this year. This huge 13% drop is compared to a 5% decrease identified amongst men.
Women in Sport stated that 32% of women couldn’t prioritise doing exercise during the first lockdown as they had too much to do for others.
To encourage participation, Active Suffolk have recruited 14 of their This Girl Can Ambassadors to take part and promote the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind challenge. This means they will be running, swimming, biking, hopping, or covering the distance of 100 miles in a more unique or challenging way than usual. Some will be doing it on their own, and some will be joining friends, family, or colleagues to reach the milestone whist raising money for Suffolk Mind.
Anna Salisbury, local This Girl Can Ambassador said:
“I decided to take part in the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind challenge as during the first lockdown I really struggled with my anxiety levels and found that by keeping active my mental health vastly improved.
“Just going for a mile walk once a day in the fresh air and sunshine really improved my mood and made me much more proactive the rest of the day. I would encourage anyone out there struggling in these strange times just to try and grab a few minutes’ walk each day to clear your head and refresh – it really does help.”
The Women in Sport research carried out during the first lockdown identified several barriers to physical activity, including the difficulty of juggling working from home and childcare. Older women also reported shielding due to long term conditions and in addition, women were found to have increased anxiety levels compared to men.
Now that the new lockdown rules are less restrictive, it is hoped that this collaboration between Active Suffolk and Suffolk Mind will help to support local women back to a more active lifestyle.
Local This Girl Can ambassador Clair Fiddaman found working from home and keeping active a challenge during the first lockdown and is using the Suffolk Mind challenge to make changes this time around, she said:
“I decided to take part in the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind challenge to try and get me out in the fresh air as much as possible. I’m working from home and have been since March, but I have got into a bad habit of sitting to work, getting lunch and sitting to watch TV. By the end of the day sometimes I had done less than 1000 steps! This challenge gives me a good excuse to get moving every day, even if I can only squeeze in 15 mins!”
Community Fundraising Coordinator Lizzy Tuthill said: “Physical exercise is a great way to help your mental health, especially now when times are uncertain, and more of us are experiencing everyday life a little differently. Research shows that 30 minutes of brisk walking three to four times a week – getting our heart rate above its resting level – is enough to trigger endorphin release which can be equivalent in its effect to anti-depressant medication.
“We are working with Active Suffolk and our local This Girl Can ambassadors as we want to encourage more women to get into activity to increase their wellbeing, whilst also raising money for Suffolk Mind.”