Why jogging is a lockdown lifesaver | Running

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Jogging has been a life-saver for me. I’ve had depression since I was a teenager, and I’ve jogged since then too. I’d hate to think what my head would feel like without running. Now the whole country has gone run-crazy. And it makes perfect sense. Far better run-crazy than stir-crazy.

The pandemic has caused the whole country to become if not clinically depressed at least collectively miserable. People who have never complained of depression, anxiety, claustrophobia and obsessive compulsive disorders are doing so now. Last month it was reported that mental health charity Mind’s daily website views rose from 9,580 on 4 January to 14,167 after the announcement of a third lockdown in the UK.

Now a new survey from Macmillan Cancer Support shows that 7 million (almost one in 10) Britons have started running or jogging to look after their mental health during the pandemic.

I first noticed the change in lockdown one. I was recovering from a horrible bout of sepsis and pneumonia and very Covid-like symptoms, even though I tested negative on both the antigen and antibody tests. I was too weak to run so I had to settle for a daily constitutional (the very words depress me). And that was when I saw the streets paved with joggers. I felt jealous and a little angry – they weren’t regular joggers (we joggers tend to know and nod at each other), and they were going so bloody fast. It was just wrong. Now I realise they only appeared to be going so fast because I was constitutionalising so slowly.

When I was finally ready to run physically, my mental health went for a Burton. I couldn’t get myself out of the house, and probably wasn’t safe to be left alone. So I lay in bed, played Schubert lieder obsessively and doubled up on my depression.

Now my physicals and mentals are so much better, and I’m back running again – and it is wonderful. Even writing about it feels like a rush of fresh air to the lungs, head, heart and soul. Of course, millions have turned to running partly because there are so few legal alternatives in lockdown. But even if there were, this is still the best option. It is invigorating, liberating, refreshing and tiring (and we all need a good reason to be tired at the moment). It is also free, of course – vital for everybody suffering financially because of the pandemic. Running provides a natural serotonin boost, and hopefully catching a bit of daylight sun gives us our much needed vitamin D supplement. We make ourselves fitter, see real people, feel a sense of solidarity with other runners/walkers and declutter our head. Running literally gives us a reason to get up in lockdown.

Many of us who could benefit from seeing psychiatrists, therapists, mental health crisis teams or just good friends are struggling to do so right now, and will do so for the foreseeable. In the meantime, millions of us are self-medicating in the best way possible – with our feet.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Why jogging is a lockdown lifesaver | Running

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