World Mental Health Day 2019

Mary Tweed
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October 10th is World Mental Health Day and although the media has done much in recent years to “get people talking” there is still a taboo about mental health.  It is important that we all look after our mental health in the same way as we care for our physical health. If you are reading this, you are probably a regular Nordic Walker, or thinking about it and therefore, you are already taking control of nurturing your mental health by following a regular exercise programme.  Nordic walking is a gentle, but effective form of exercise that has many benefits to one’s mental health. The link between exercise and improved mental well being is common knowledge, but do you know why….?  


  • Physical activity boosts the release of feel good hormones, such as serotonin and endorphins that make one feel better generally.

  • Exercise also triggers the release of cortisol, which helps the body manage stress.

  • When feeling low and lethargic, it is tempting to sit and home, because “I don’t have the energy”.  However, far from using up the little energy you feel you have, exercise leaves you feeling more energetic and invigorated.

  • Physical activity gives your brain something else to focus on and can be a useful distraction from worries, making it a positive way of coping in times of difficulty.  Nordic walking gives you plenty to think about - knuckles down, extend fully, active foot, shoulders back, head up, rotate shoulders etc….

  • Nordic walking helps connect people to each other and is a sociable form of exercise.  Chatting is encouraged during the “walkie talkie” sections of each session, enabling participants to make new friends.  A good friend network is key to good mental health.

  • Regular Nordic Walkers will see an improvement in their fitness levels and this leads to improved self esteem, both because you feel better in yourself, but also from the satisfaction of achieving a goal, whether that is to walk faster, or shorter recovery time from a high intensity burst of skipping.

  • Exercise improves the quality of your sleep and good sleep helps to regulate mood.

  • Nordic Walking is a fantastic way of reducing muscle tension, particularly in the neck and shoulders (extend, extend extend…!), which helps the body to relax and get rid of stress.

  • A strong push through the pole, along with the grip and release technique is an effective outlet for frustration.  Much better to take any pent up worries out on the pole and ground - literally helping you ground yourself - than let it bubble up and explode.  Some people report that Nordic Walking reminds them of playing with an executive stress ball.

  • Nordic Walking takes place outdoors in green spaces, often surrounded by woodland.  Studies have proven that spending time in wooded environments provides a positive uplift to mental wellbeing.

The government health guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity every week (at least 5 x 30 minute sessions).  Nordic Walking raises the heart rate and works 90% of the skeletal muscles, making it an excellent choice for maintaining all round mental and physical health.

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