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13 May 2024

Mental Health and Movement

One of the most important things we can do to help protect our mental health is regular movement. Our bodies and our minds are connected. Looking after ourselves physically also helps us prevent problems with our mental health.

While many people struggle to move enough, this often isn’t the case in the horseracing industry, with the majority of stud, stable and racecourse staff having physically active jobs. Having a healthy mind and body is vital for all however, and there’s plenty of ideas to help you both at work and at home, including these:

Find the fun

However you choose to get moving, the best option is usually the one we enjoy the most. As we get older, we sometimes forget that movement can be fun! Instead of thinking of exercise as a chore, embrace your inner child and find the joy in movement. Fun and laughter alongside movement will increase your motivation and the psychological benefits.


Connect with others

We can strengthen our personal relationships or even make new friends when we take part in movement activities with other people. These social connections are also great for our mental health and wellbeing.

Think about ways you can make your catch-ups with friends more active. You could also use opportunities for movement to meet new people. Check out what groups and activities are taking place in your area and sign up to join in. Being part of a club or team is a great way to increase your self-esteem and help reduce feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety.


Movement looks different for everyone, don’t compare yourself to others

It can feel nerve-wracking to think about moving more if you’re worried you can’t keep up with other people. Remember, you don’t have to be super sporty to get the mental health benefits that come with more movement.

Focus on you and don’t worry about what other people are doing. For your own wellbeing, be kind to yourself and don’t feel pressured to keep up with someone else. Regardless of the form it takes, movement that gets our heart pumping and muscles moving releases the “feel good” hormones that help reduce feelings of stress and anger.


Be mindful about your movement

Try to be mindful of how you’re moving, and the way it makes you feel in both your mind and body. Noticing how we’re breathing, the sights and sounds around us, how the air feels on our face, can help us relax and feel less stressed.

Moving in nature

Research suggests that doing movement in an outdoor ‘green’ environment has greater positive effects on our wellbeing compared to doing activity indoors. So why not take your moments for movement out in the wild? Go for a walk in the countryside or perhaps try cold water swimming at the beach (make sure to take appropriate safety precautions see RNLI advice).

Even if you’re fortunate enough to work outside in a green environment such as a stud farm or racecourse, there’s still opportunities to be had for exercise, movement and meeting new people in your own time to support your mental health. You could join a walking group or an outdoor exercise class – the possibilities are endless.


Try something new

When we are open to trying new experiences, we reap the rewards to our wellbeing. You might be inspired by watching Strictly Come Dancing but have been too shy to try your local dance classes. Give it a whirl! Pushing ourselves to try new things opens us up to new opportunities for movement, making new friends and having fun.


Plan things to look forward to

We know having events and plans in the diary to forward to, is great for mental health, it can give a sense of hope and excitement for the future.

Add moments for movement to your diary and make plans to do fun things that you can get excited about. This could be planning a family outing for a walk in an interesting place you haven’t been to before, joining a club or class that you can look forward to every week, or a night out dancing with friends.



Not everyone in the industry has a physical job however, so given the amount of time we spend at work it makes sense to think about opportunities for physical activity in and around the workplace. Walking is a cheap and easy way to promote better health and wellbeing and research has shown there are lots of benefits in having a physically active workforce including reduced sickness absence, increased productivity and greater staff retention. Walking reduces stress and has a positive impact on both mental and physical wellbeing. Workplace walking can also be a sociable activity that has the added value of providing an opportunity to network with colleagues.


Listen to music that gets you moving

Some songs are just made for moving. Why not play your favourite song when you get up in the morning to put yourself in a good mood for the day ahead?


Be kind to yourself, moving more is self-care

It can be hard to get yourself up and active if your mental health is poor. The days when you lack in motivation or are feeling low are likely when you’ll see the biggest boost to your mood by getting moving. Think of moving more as an act of self-care that will help you to feel good.

If you’re struggling to even leave your bed or house, take advantage of the times when you have to get up; for example, to use the bathroom or get something to get something to drink. Use these times to do a bit of movement – some stretches, some lunges, marching on the spot.

If you feel anxious about going outside, there are also lots of home workout ideas on YouTube that can help get you moving.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling to get moving. Take small steps each day and you’ll soon feel the benefits.


Don’t forget to rest

Taking time to rest is important for good mental health, especially if you’ve been using up a lot of energy. Try to prioritise time for rest and establish a regular, relaxing routine that lets you unwind and sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to rest.


Celebrate your achievements

Well done! Congratulate yourself for taking care of your body and mind. Make sure to reward yourself too, perhaps a nice bubble bath after a walk in the park or something else that you enjoy. Appreciation is a powerful way of generating positive thoughts and feelings and recognising our progress, both at home and at work, is an important part of moving for our mental health.

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