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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Tuesday, 14 September 2010 13:45 UK
Sevenoaks women run to beat depression
Shona Campbell and Harriet Heal
Over ten weeks Harriet and Shona teach women how to run regularly

A psychologist and a running coach in Sevenoaks have combined their expertise to offer a running group for women with depression or anxiety.

Up and Running is organised by Harriet Heal and Shona Campbell. It began in April 2010 and is supported by the local council.

Harriet, the psychologist, is interested in alternative mental health treatments.

Shona, the running coach, found running helped her to overcome depression.

Up and Running

Shona and Harriet met two years ago through a local running group. While they ran together Shona told Harriet how running really helped her overcome depression.

"You feel everything is very, very low and black and hopeless. It's very, very easy to just stay at home and shut yourself away from people, the more you do that the worst you feel.

"It's hard to get out and do something about it but if you can make that first step, then that personally for me has been hugely beneficial."

They created a group called Up and Running for women who suffer depression or anxiety. Meeting once a week over ten weeks, Harriet and Shona teach women how to start running regularly.

Still running

Shona Campbell and Harriet Heal
Start slowly, if you cannot hold a conversation you are going too fast

Women who have completed the ten week course continue to run with those they met through Up and Running. The combination of exercise with the social environment of the group has had a positive impact on their well being.

"It's just having more energy to cope with things. It isn't the cure all for everything but it just enables you to deal with things better." said one woman who was part of the first Up and Running group in April 2010.

Another woman from the first group said: "It gives me a real space in my head. I'm just thinking about getting the next step.

"I've got kids, I've got a job as well, I really look forward to it, it gives me a mental break from everything else."

Harriet and Shona's running tips for beginners:

• Start really slowly, jog at a pace you can hold a conversation, if you cannot talk you are going too fast.

• Run for a minute, walk for a few seconds, run for another minute. You could alternate running and walking between lamp posts.

• Try to keep it regular but be realistic, twice a week better than everyday.

• Find a friend to run with, you will feel less self-conscious and more motivated to keep it up.

• Write when you will run in your diary and make it part of your usual routine.

• Put out your running clothes the night before you plan to run so when you wake up you put them straight on and they stay on until you have been for a run!



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