Running for Mental Health

Running for Mental Health
Main Topic
Mobility – Sports
Additional Topic(s)
Health - Mental
Health - Physical
1 day
Implementation Mode
Outdoor F2F
● Increase group membership, positively influence group feeling

● Increase research skills by researching the right running techniques and equipment

● Increase organisational skills by coordinating dates and places for the running groups

● Increase knowledge on positive effects of endurance sport on mental health by reflection on running results
Overview of Activity
Sport is becoming more and more important for young people. Even though the motives behind it are more likely in the nature of good looking than the actual positive effects on mental and physical health, but, for sure, it is a positive trend.

This resource can help young people to get more into sports. Especially into sport types that are less expensive than fitness centres or only aiming to “sculpt” your body. Furthermore, it can show young people that sport can be free from costs, can be done as a group and can clear the head.
Description of Activity
1. Define groups. Important: groups should be split equally. Meaning there are couch potatoes, beginners and pros. It is important to split the groups depending on their running level, such as, couch potatoes need to be motivated and pros should not be bored. Also, running in groups could lead to overwhelming people or pushing people too close to their limits. This could result in physical damages. Therefore the group adapts to the weakest and is split by running experience.

2. Before the start of the first running session, young people research “how to run properly”. A good summary is provided by “Fit for Fun” ""> or “Die Laufpraxis” (“the running practice”) "">


3. They will also research the positive effects of endurance sports on mental health.

4. Following the research, the young people will think as a group about what they need for their running activities. In the beginning it is not vital to wear proper running gear. But it is definitely important to wear good running shoes to prevent injuries. It would be good if they support one another and think about how to give others shoes who haven’t got any. Could they lend shoes? Is there a charity shop nearby to buy them cheap or even get them for free? It would also be good to have training pants.

5. They will create a WhatsApp-group and think about a catchy group name. This group is for:

a. Coordinating the dates

b. Finding a good running course (it is important to start with a short run; it is also fine to stop and walk for a while if you cannot run the whole distance)

c. Accepting or declining dates

d. Sharing successes, pictures, finished running tracks, experiences from the run and so on

6. Create a playlist together. You can either use Spotify or YouTube but also any other platform. Music can increase motivation, lift the mood and have an impact on the running pace.

7. Meet up with your running group: take a group picture, warm up together or start with a really soft run, stretching and reflecting (how did we like it, what was good/what was not so good, was everyone able to manage it, what could we improve next time)

8. Reflect in the group with youth worker:

a. How did the young people manage (their run and their running groups)?

b. How was the mood before, during and after the run?

c. Will they repeat their run?

d. How did they manage with coordination the date and place?

e. Do they feel like they gained knowledge about running techniques and the positive effect of running on their mental health?

Expected Results

Young people get together in harmonic groups and profit from motivating one another. They meet up regularly for running and share their experiences with each other and with their youth workers. This way they not only increase their athletic endurance but can also have a positive influence on their mental health, increase their knowledge on running techniques and mental health, increase their group membership and find a good completion.

Studies show that running, or endurance sport in general, shows positive effects on mental health and can help prevent depression. Furthermore, running is free from costs, not counting shoes and outfits, and can be done nearly everywhere.

A lot of young people would like to get more support for their mental health. They also take their own mental health more seriously than they did a couple of years ago. But it is not always that easy to find good mental health support for free. Sport cannot substitute professional support but can help young people gain more self-confidence and a clear head. Getting together as a group can also strengthen cohesion and, best case scenario, develop new friendships. These are also important steps for good mental health.

With this resource, young people can get together in groups for “running dates” and share their experiences with others. Furthermore, they can create a playlist for their running exercises and let this playlist grow as a collective library. As a first step, young people will learn more about the right way of running and the positive aspects of endurance sport.

This exercise will be accomplished together by young people and youth workers. Youth workers can optional join the running groups and moderate the groups if necessary. But they can also just motivate and support young people with their groups and the organisation of date and place. It is important to accompany young people and to support them with the organisational site of this resource. They will also motivate young people to keep the running groups going. Research activities and reflection talks should definitely be held with youth workers to prepare young people for their running activities and complete the task.

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