The city’s first and best-loved running tour company, Run of a Kind, has joined forces with the leading mental health charity in the West Midlands, Living Well UK, to debut a new programme of wellness-themed tours throughout January, February and March. The ‘Leafy Brum’ 10k runs will see groups of 10 led by a specialist running guide around Birmingham, with a wellbeing practitioner on-hand throughout.
Based on the popular tourist walking tour activity, a running tour is simply a more unique (and faster!) way to see and study a city with a local guide.
Each of the ‘Leafy Brum’ runs will begin at Cannon Hill Park with a yoga-inspired warm-up, and end with a wellbeing practitioner led-talk. What’s more, each runner will receive a free ‘RUN WELL’ running top and tote bag. The 10km run will see participants run among Birmingham’s greener suburbs, focusing on the past and present of the city’s beloved parks and their impact on people’s wellbeing throughout history.
Nabila Gardner, Living Well UK’s Grants and Programmes Manager, said:
“During the pandemic, we saw an increase in the number of people reaching out for support with their mental health. To combat this, we have been delivering a wide range of free physical and creative activities across the West Midlands through trusted partners such as Run of a Kind.”
Living Well UK has supported 11,000 individuals in Birmingham suffering from mental ill health over the last 12 months, but the experts warn that the number of people struggling across the region is much higher. Therefore, Living Well UK has funded innovative projects like this one, in a bid to help people to access alternative support.
The correlation between exercise improving mental health and exercise is well established, with one particular meta-analysis showing that regular moderate intensity aerobic activity had a significant antidepressant effect in people with depression.
Lucy Canham, Founder of Run of a Kind, said:
“Recreational running is still dominated by those on higher incomes despite it being one of the cheapest and most accessible fitness activities. Living Well UK’s funding allows us to put this on for free for local residents, removing cost as a barrier.”
Lucy and the team hope that the running tours become less intimidating entry to exercise, with regular breathing stops and an emphasis on the group slowing down to absorb their surroundings rather than racing each other, which removes other barriers to exercise such as fear of being slow or unfit.
Sarah Cannon, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and Personal Trainer at Living Well UK, said:
“Our aims for this project are to highlight the benefits of being outdoors and exercising and the impact that this has on mental wellbeing. Joining with Run of a Kind on this project will enable us to reach out to individuals to motivate and inspire them to participate in movement for wellbeing.
“We also hope to raise the awareness of the other ways in which Living Well UK can support those living in Birmingham and Solihull to improve their wellbeing with approaches, such as walking therapy and personal training alongside guided cognitive behavioural therapy”.
Darren Turner, Lead Running Tour Guide for Leafy Brum, added:
“Access to green, open spaces is the key to nurturing our mental and physical wellness. As a trained yoga teacher, I saw the potential to create a running tour, that would be a perfect blend of movement and stillness. I’m humbled that Living Well have chosen to partner with us so that together, we can share both Brum’s best kept secret and this magical wellness experience with as many as possible.”