RED January 2022: my last 31 days of exercise

Morning Jog | Emma Simpson/Unsplash

RED January began in 2016 after its founder Hannah Beecham witnessed the positive impact regular physical activity had on her Mum, who was recovering from a period of depression.

Formally known as “Run Every Day January”, the campaign has since adopted the more inclusive ethos of “Move Every Day January”, with the aim of encouraging people from across different age groups and abilities to take up exercise and “beat the winter blues away”.

Partnered with the mental health charity Sport in Mind, participants are encouraged to run, walk, cycle, swim, dance, or skip (to name a few) their way through everyday of January to raise awareness of mental health and the benefits of exercise.

THERE WAS LIKELY SOMEONE ELSE, SOMEWHEWRE, PUTTING ON THEIR TRAINERS AND PLODDING ALONG WITH YOU

Data collected by RED in recent years suggests that “more than 50% of REDers experienced less stress and reduced signs of depressive symptoms”, whilst also helping motivate people to get moving and create lasting healthy habits.

I began doing RED in 2020 with my parents, who had been participating since 2017. I ran everyday for the first two years of participating in RED, and although January is often a difficult time to find the motivation to do any form of exercise, let alone go outside in the dark and the rain that refuses to be snow (this is Cornwall), I enjoyed feeling like I was part of something. Even through 30mph gusts, days that never got light, and the stress of returning to work or school after the winter break, there was likely someone else, somewhere, putting on their trainers and plodding along with you. The experience reminded me that whenever I felt alone in my stress or anxiety, race support was just around the corner.

This year I embraced ‘Moving Every Day My Way’ to run, cycle, weightlift and stretch my way through January. I’d been hit with delayed Fresher’s Flu over Christmas and my exercise regime had consequently disappeared. I felt like my stamina had decreased, particularly in my running, and that I would not be able to gain it back again. I remember forcing myself out for a run shortly after Christmas, getting 500 metres down the road and turning back with the sensation, mentally and physically, that I could not do it. When January 1st rolled around however, having the support of an entire community, and the knowledge that I was undertaking the challenge not just for my own mental health, but for that of many others, was hugely motivating.

Now with RED January at an end and lighter days fast approaching, I feel in a significantly better mindset than that of a month ago, ready to take this positive out of one of the darkest months and into the rest of the year.