Exercising each week is good for both physical and mental health, which is why England Athletics has teamed up with the charity Mind to launch a national campaign to improve both.
The #17MinutesForMe project is an eight-week campaign that encourages participants to make time for 17 minutes of physical activity three times a week during the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships, taking place in July and August in London.
Celebrities, including Matt Johnson, Anna Williamson, Nick Bright and four-time Olympian Donna Fraser, are supporting the initiative.
The purpose of the campaign is to enhance mental wellbeing and encourage ongoing participation in running and athletics for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
The challenge is part of Team Personal Best – one of the projects created under the Inspiration Programme which will harness the impact of hosting the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships through a series of grassroots athletics projects.
Welsh TV star Matt Johnson, a Mind ambassador, spoke of his own struggle with depression and why he’s involved with #17MinutesForMe.
Matt said: “17MinutesForMe is going to bring together mental and physical wellbeing – two things that have a big personal meaning for me.
“The challenges we face in our lives are all different. And so are our minds and our bodies. But what we do know is that being active, in a way that works for you, can help reduce the risk of depression by up to 30%.
“And this is what #17MinutesForMe is all about – looking after your body and your mind.”
Each week, a #17MinutesForMe ‘team leader’ will take the lead to motivate and encourage participants to keep going throughout the challenge, through emails and social media content.
All of the team leaders have their own reasons for why mental wellbeing is so important to them.
Mind ambassador and TV presenter Anna Williamson feels passionately about the benefits of exercise on mental wellbeing having used exercise to overcome anxiety. Also an author, counsellor and mum, Anna truly feels that taking time out for yourself is crucial for good mental health.
Matt and Anna will be joined by a Dudley Mind volunteer, John, who has started running to help him to manage his depression at the age of 72, and also Lucy, who is a England Athletics mental health ambassador and RunTogether leader.
Lucy leads several running groups in her community that aim to help people de-stress and relax.
Radio 1xtra’s Nick Bright and four-time Olympian Donna Fraser will also feature in the challenge.
If you’re feeling inspired to get active for a healthier body and mind, head to 17minutesforme.com and sign up to receive your first week of emails and inspiration.
The World Para Athletics Championships start on 14 July, but you’ll receive top tips straight away.