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'How jogging has helped me to transform my mental health - and life'

Getting outdoors has really helped Lynne in her bid to overcome mental health problems.

Lynne Pettifer, 44, from Alvaston in Derby was diagnosed with borderline bipolar disorder when she was 23. Originally from Coventry, she moved to Derby eight years ago with her husband after her mental health struggles meant she was no longer able to keep up her job as an accountant.

She completely changed her lifestyle – taking up jogging through a JOG Derbyshire group and starting up a dog walking business and animal sanctuary.

Becoming more active has changed her life and she hasn't had any major episodes for the past seven years.

Struggling to work

Lynne said: "When I was working as an accountant I was really struggling with my bipolar. I was off work a lot, working for six months and then having six months off.

"When I met my husband we moved to Derby and I began dog walking to earn money. I found that getting out in the fresh air day in day out really helped with my mental health.

From here I set up my own dog walking business and a parrot and owl sanctuary at our home. I do 10-15 miles every day with the dogs and when I get home I feel so good because of it."

Starting the jogging journey

After recognising the benefits walking was having on her mental health, Lynne was motivated to take up jogging after hearing the story of a Radio Derby presenter.

She said: "I was listening to Sally Pepper on Radio Derby, she was training for the London Marathon. It made me think that if she could do this then so could I."

Lynne jogs to get some 'me time'.

Enlisting the help of JOG Derbyshire

Once she found her local JOG Derbyshire group two years ago, Lynne became a regular despite having never run before.

She said: "When I started I was a complete novice. I'd never run in my life. Even at school I was always the one at the back during cross country, I really hated it. I also struggled with nerves and meeting new people. But everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

"Just to be able to get out for some me time, listen to an audio book or music on my headphones really helps me.

Training for the Ramathon

"Since joining I've done a few 10k runs, most recently the Derby 10k and I'm training for the next Derby Ramathon in June.

"This year I'm actually raising money for my own sanctuary so that's extra motivation for me. I'm not a fast runner but the sense of achievement is amazing.

Making some fantastic friends

"I've made some fantastic friends through it. I've never hidden my mental health issues, I think it's important to talk about it and I know they'll always be there for me if I need them.

"They understand that before a race I might talk a lot because of my nerves but other times I'll be quieter. We meet up every week or two outside of the JOG Derbyshire sessions to have a slow jog and catch up."

Helping with asthma

As well as helping with her mental health, Lynne is an asthma sufferer and becoming more active has improved that too.

She said: "I still have good days and bad days when I lose motivation. It's worse in the winter months when it's cold and dark. But I also have a treadmill at home so when I am struggling I can still run at home. Finding the time and energy is sometimes hard but it's so worthwhile."

Find out more

Lynne currently runs with the Jog Oakwood group, and you can click on the link to find out more information about them.

To locate a jogging group nearer you, go to Find a Group. If you are interested in finding an activity in general, go to the club and activity search.