"Much of my research over the last 30 years has focused on the link between physical and mental health, and as a keen outdoor runner and cyclist, my experience has been that exercise helps me to keep mentally robust and physically fit. I have an exercise diary going back over 40 years so I have always made the space for this. Even at the age of 62, I compete in 25-30 orienteering events a year (45-60 minute cross country races with a map), and usually find 2-3 hashes (see http://www.swh3.info/) per week which start at 7.30pm throughout the year to use for training. Getting out in the fabulous Devon countryside in the sunshine or dark (with a head torch) with 20-60 others, totally gets my mind off a very intensive job as Associate Dean for Research and managing £3.5m of grant income, and helps me to sleep. And the hash groups include people aged 10-80 years (out for an hour or so at their own pace) which adds to the social benefits and further distraction. I have always worked at least 50 hours a week and now, still have the energy to work hard and play hard. I am not addicted to exercise but am not sure how resilient I would be if I didn’t do it.
Such is my interest in the subject that 10 years ago I co-founded a journal looking at the clinical issues pertaining to physical activity and mental health – and today the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity (MENPA) is still going strong, with a worldwide editorial board.
MENPA has received several submissions in recent years which report on the effects of yoga and other multi-component (e.g. physical activity and diet) interventions on various mental health outcomes. Other submissions have focused on the relationship between fitness and mental health. As a co-founding editor-in-chief of MENPA, alongside Guy Faulkner from the University of British Columbia, Canada, we have stuck to our original scope with a focus on the behavioural effects of physical activity on mental health and wellbeing – with new studies coming in all the time to enrich our understanding."