Dr Lucy Loveday is a GP, Medical Educator and Director of The British Society of Lifestyle Medicine. Lucy has an infectious enthusiasm for using education as a vehicle for positive change. Lucy enjoys promoting evidence based lifestyle medicine and has a particular interest in the relationship between physical activity and mental health. She is also a great advocate for the benefits of connecting with nature to build resilience and cultivate a sense of wellbeing. Lucy has organised a pioneering conference: Movement & The Mind 2019 in London on 5th October 2019 and she looks forward to meeting some of you there (further details below). In this article, Lucy shares her journey and thoughts ahead of the conference.
I have always been very clear and open that my Dad is and always will be my greatest inspiration
My Dad embodies what it means to live through and recover from a period of sustained darkness; that is severe depression. He has tirelessly and wholeheartedly dedicated his journey of recovery to the plight of those who continue to experience and suffer with mental health problems. Dad went on to be awarded an MBE in the 2018 honours list for his services to children, to people with mental health issues, and to the community of Swindon.
Dad tells us that, as a young man and all through school, he was a keen cricketer and hockey player. He recounts stories of always being active and engaged with sport. However, his working life, along with the reality of balancing all the demands on his time as a husband and father to three young children, culminated in a total loss of regular exercise from his routine.
The recession in the late 80s hit his firm badly and it was at that point that he suffered a severe depression. It was clear that during that immensely difficult and vulnerable time in his life, he found his sense of self again through running. Dad has regularly run since then and has gone on to complete four marathons, including his ultimate goal of crossing the finish line in New York. He speaks very openly about the role that running has played and still plays in his recovery and sustained wellness. He often cites running as being “essential” to staying well mentally above everything.
I know from my own experience how much better I feel when I manage to regularly participate in physical activity and commit to prioritising good nutrition, adequate rest, and quality sleep. There is a strong, consistent, and well-established evidence-base for the benefits that physical activity has on mental and physical health. This is a complex area and ultimately, we also need to address the upstream social determinants of health in order to create a sustainable healthcare system. My passion for the areas of health inequality, promotion of accessible lifestyle medicine and movement for mental health, particularly in nature, is driven by a combination of experience and robust rigorous scientific evidence.
Find something you enjoy and make movement fit in around it. For many of us focusing only on the movement bit can be a barrier to behaviour change.
For me, movement and a subsequent level of fitness have emerged as indirect and genuinely unintended benefits of what I initially set out to do. Let me explain: I am a runner, but only because I want to explore. I am specifically a fell runner but only because I enjoy the thrill of leaping over and sometimes falling into muddy bogs on the moor! As my feet pound a natural trail and a beautiful expansive vista presents itself before me, it is the horizon that I focus on and not my feet. And best of all, this activity is free! I am a swimmer because I enjoy the feeling of being weightless in water. I am a wild swimmer by preference because along with my husband, who studies the OS map, we plan a micro-adventure to deliberately seek out rivers, seas or hidden coves previously not explored. The contrast of the cold water and the warm cup of tea afterwards is forever a natural remedy for me; comforting, energising, and life affirming.
For me it is about finding something you enjoy, want to do more of or simply have fun doing. Then focus on making movement fit in around that activity somehow. For many of us focusing only on the movement bit can be a barrier to behaviour change.
The Movement & The Mind 2019 conference is an idea that very much originated in my heart.
Inspired by my Dad’s personal journey with depression, I wanted to create a pioneering educational event that provides a platform for learning with a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health, from experts and leaders in the field. The conference will be the first of its kind and will offer delegates the opportunity to participate in several interactive facilitated workshops to experience for themselves the benefits of movement for their well-being.
As a clinician and educator, I am passionate about bridging the gap between the academic field and meaningful action for those most likely to benefit from the research. I hope that by educating professionals and the public about the current evidence-base for physical activity and mental health, they will feel inspired to advocate this going forwards or begin to make a change for their own mental health that involves moving their bodies in some way.
Ultimately, it is about keeping the conversation about mental health current, sharing ideas, and learning together to raise the profile of the benefits that movement can have on the mind. Please do come along. We have a fantastic line up of confirmed key speakers and facilitated interactive movement workshops too.
We look forward to welcoming you in London on 5th October!
At the time of writing there are a small number of tickets still for sale available here for the conference.