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Feel your personal best - Ross

"I’ve really enjoyed trying something a little different to my usual exercise."

Ross Cunningham is a SAMH media volunteer and supports his mental health through hillwalking. During the winter it 's not always as easy and safe to climb the hills, so Ross has three key tips that help him to feel his personal best when the temperature drops and the days are short. 

"Keeping active during the winter months has always been a big challenge. I’m a really active person and spend large chunks of my time in Spring, Summer and Autumn out hiking in Fife or hillwalking in the Highlands. 

"During the summer I always get in the habit of taking the long days and good weather for granted, and then suddenly the sun is down by 4pm and there are snow and ice warnings on a weekly basis! Don't get me wrong, I love winter hillwalking, but sometimes the conditions can be terrible and Munro bagging isn't something I will typically do in the evenings!

"So I’ve come up with three principles that have worked for me when trying to still feel my personal best when the temperature drops and the days are short.  

Doing exercise during my lunch hour

"With only so much daylight during the winter months, I’ve found getting out for a walk at lunchtime has really helped me keep my steps up. The temptation would normally be to eat at my desk while watching YouTube or the iPlayer, but I’ve got into a habit now of taking my lunch with me and walking to a nice place with a view to sit and eat. I usually manage at least a couple of miles each lunch time which adds up to 10 miles of extra walking per week.  

Finding the motivation to keep active in cold weather

"There will be some days I'm motivated enough to go walking in the dark winter evenings, but at other times the struggle is real! However, something that worked really well for me a couple of years ago to keep walking at night, was by signing up to a charity challenge for SAMH. My target was to walk 200 miles during the month of January and I was posting my stats to social media to keep me accountable! It definitely got me out the house more than I would have, while raising money for SAMH. Whether it’s something like that or signing up for marathon or another charity event later in the year, having a focus or target to keep walking or training can be a big motivator. 

Trying new things to get fit

"When the weather can be so unpredictable, it's great if you can have the option to find an enjoyable indoor exercise or activity. With this in mind, last month I signed up to my local leisure centre and made it my New Year’s resolution to go swimming three times a week. I’ve been keeping to it so far and have really enjoyed trying something a little different to my usual exercise activity of walking! Swimming is a fantastic way to give your upper and whole body a big work out and it’s really positive for mental health as well. I’ve also really enjoyed the peace of doing an activity where I can’t have my phone on me!"

Find out more

Physical activity is central to good mental health and wellbeing. By finding ways to fit activity into your day, you will feel a difference in your mood and energy levels. SAMH, Public Health Scotland and sportscotland are working together to help you #FeelYourPersonalBest.


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