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New beginners running group caters to women battling depression

Up and Running Guelph offers a 10-week course of exercise and peer support starting in September
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Kelly Legge, left, and Shirley Hunt are two of the driving forces behind a new begginers' running group for women battling depression and anxiety. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

A new running group in Guelph is aimed at helping women who battle depression and anxiety.

Up and Running Guelph is a group starting in September for women age 18 to 65 who are new to running that battle mild to moderate depression.

"Not only is exercise great for mental health, but exercise outdoors trumps indoor," said Shirley Hunt, the group's founder.

Up and Running will be a 10-week session where the group, likely limited to 10 initially, will meet twice a week for an outdoor run. It will be non-competitive and strictly for women and beginners.

"Having a group there waiting for you is a big factor in motivating people to get out. It makes a big difference," said Hunt, who has been a runner for years.

"The goal is not to be competitive, but to get women outside with other supportive women," Hunt said. "People who just get it, who understand."

The group is not a therapy session, but something offering the benefits of exercise, and in particular outdoor exercise, in a comfortable and supportive surrounding of people who have shared a similar experience.

Advisory board member Kelly Legge used running to help in her physical and psychological recovery from a car accident a few years ago.

"Women are often defined by depression. Peer support is a big part of recovering from it," she said. "Just getting out of the house can be huge."

While the group does not involve counselling or therapy, guest speakers will be brought in on occasion to offer advice on things such as nutrition and to share their own experiences.

"We're a companion to other resources, not a therapy session," Hunt said.

The hope is that Up and Running participants will continue running after the 10-week course is completed, either individually, together or with one of Guelph's many running groups.

The group is modeled on an Up and Running group that that started in a small English town that Hunt discovered while doing research on starting a very specific running group. She said they have been very helpful in helping the Guelph group get going.

The group's advisory committee includes a psychologist, a retired minister, runners and business people.

The cost of the 10-week session will be $40 to help cover administrative overhead.

More information can be found on the Up and Running Guelph Facebook page or by emailing [email protected].


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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