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Sport Wales team up with Mind Cymru to support mental health in New Year

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New Year swings around, bringing hope and promise but, for some, this time of year can prove difficult. To help tackle mental health problems, Sport Wales and Mind Cymru have teamed up to highlight the significant mental health benefits of moving more and being active.

The two national organisations will be showing real-life case studies, research and examples of the power of exercise to reduce stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression.

Those who share their story include Bob from Powys who felt lost after his wife, Mary, died in October 2020: “I hadn’t woken up alone for 51 years,” said Bob. “It is very difficult to cope with living without someone.” He reached out to his local Mind and has been attending Walk and Talks every week; and being outdoors, with someone to talk to, is helping.

Meanwhile, in Cardiff, Shekira opens up about living with anxiety and how exercise can help manage her feelings. She has since set up a dance class, encouraging others to improve their mental health through dancing.

And in Pontypridd, Alex has navigated various mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Keen to learn what could help him, he discovered the power of exercise and is now a keen member of Merthyr Tydfil Cycling Club, taking part in group weekend rides as well as time trial events.

Bob while out on a walk.
Bob while out on a walk.

Sport Wales Assistant Director Communications and Strategic Digitalisation Rhian Evans said:

“We have been really moved by the stories and are really proud to partner with Mind Cymru on this project. We want to get across that you don’t have to sign yourself up for a marathon, you don’t have to consider yourself to be sporty and you don’t even need to own a single piece of lycra!

“We know this is a difficult time of year for many people – not everyone feels hopeful and positive as the new year swings around - but we can use exercise to reduce stress, meet new people, build confidence and to distract us from our worries. Often, as our physical health improves, so too can our mental health and it can help us get through the tough months of winter.”

Sue O’Leary, Director, Mind Cymru said:

“When you are struggling with your mental health, it is really important to remember that there are organisations that can support you. Moving more can support our mental health, reducing the risk of developing depression by up to 30%. It’s important to find something you enjoy, that works for you, it doesn’t have to be long or intense.  We are really excited to be working with Sport Wales to show people right across the nation how powerful it can be to take time for ourselves to build a healthy relationship with physical activity.”

In 2021, Sport Wales undertook a survey and discovered that 65% of adults were exercising to manage their mental health at that stage of the ongoing pandemic. It was also revealed that 62% of adults felt it more important to be physically active during the pandemic than at other times.

The short features will be published on the social channels of Sport Wales and Mind Cymru in the new year.

If you are struggling with your mental health, head to Mind Cymru Mind Cymru | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems for more information and support.

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