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The Power of Exercise

Discovering the power of exercise has been a journey that began for me a bit later in my life. Perhaps because of traumatic experiences in PE at school (yeah I was the kid who would be picked last), I had avoiding anything approaching recreational exercise.


It wasn't until my early thirties that I made a conscious decision to prioritise physical activity. I vividly recall my first attempt at running—a mere 30 seconds in, I was stopped in my tracks by a stitch and an overwhelming feeling of nausea. Yet, that initial stumble was the what I needed for a profound shift in my lifestyle.


Fast forward to 2017, and I found myself crossing the finish line of the Manchester marathon in a surprisingly respectable time (3 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds!). The key ingredients to this achievement were a mix of perseverance, discipline, and a well-structured plan. I distinctly remember the sense of achievement of completing my first 5k, progressing to a 10k, then conquering a half marathon. It was during this progression that the thought of attempting a marathon first began to feel within possible. The marathon itself, like any significant physical challenge, is the culmination of months of difficult training—hundreds of miles covered in all weather conditions— so much more than just the 26.2 miles on race day.


In 2021, despite some health issues on the day, I completed a second marathon. My finishing time was not quite what I had hoped for (over 5 hours), nonetheless simply completing the marathon was a triumph in itself. There were many moments throughout the route when I really didn’t think I would.


Now I've committed to my third marathon: the iconic Loch Ness Marathon this September. I hope my time comes in somewhere between my first and second attempts - something starting with a 4 would be ideal - but more importantly I am looking forward to the route itself, the spectacular setting and enjoying the experience.

I don't say this to boast (well perhaps a little bit!). I am certainly not the fastest or most elegant of runners. I will never win any of these races. So what is the point?


While there are undeniable physical benefits to training for such endurance events, the greatest impact for me has been on my mental well-being. It's simple yet profound—I feel markedly better after a run (even if not always during).


The journey from struggling with brief runs to completing marathon distances has shown me the strong connection between movement and mental health. Regular exercise has become a vital part of my routine that not only strengthens my body but also significant benefits my mind.


As I lace up my running shoes for training runs at 5am or prepare for a long session on the treadmill if the weather isn’t on my side (quite often this year), I've come to appreciate how exercise impacts my mental state. However it can still be tough to find the motivation, and that is where discipline is required. The slogan ‘just do it’ is not only iconic but also really useful advise. Once you get going, it becomes easier. The rhythm each step often provides a meditative and hypnotic space. Worries fade, and clarity slowly emerges. Running has taught me resilience—it's not just about physical challenges, but also mental endurance. Pushing through the miles and taking it step by step mirrors how to approach any task and achieve any goal.

A person lacing their running shoes


Research consistently highlights the link between physical activity and improved mental health. When I'm active, I feel the surge of endorphins—a natural mood lifter. The 'runners high' is a real thing and the glow can stay with you all day. Even on the toughest days, a brisk walk or a gentle yoga session can alleviate stress and boost your spirits.


Moreover, exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Setting and achieving fitness goals fosters a positive mindset and builds self-confidence. Every milestone reached—whether it's a new personal best or completing a challenging workout—reaffirms my belief in my capabilities both on and off the track.


As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, I encourage others to embrace the theme of movement for mental well-being. Finding moments for movement in our daily lives doesn't require elaborate plans or expensive equipment. Find what works best for you. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, stretching during a break from your desk, joining a dance class with friends or a stroll in the local park.


It is important to celebrate and promote the joy of movement, recognising its profound impact on mental health.


Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a beginner taking your first steps, prioritise physical activity not just for the body, but for the mind.



Get in touch to learn more about hypnotherapy can help you.

Malcolm Struthers Hypnotherapy - Dumfries & Galloway and online 



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