Are You Ready For RED January?
RED January is a scheme organised by the mental health charity MIND. This fantastic initiative aims to get people active in the New Year. While RED stands for “Run Every Day”, the sentiment is really to just be active every day. This means you can walk, cycle, swim, yoga or any other form of physical activity.
Doing something active every day not only helps with your physical fitness but also contributes to better mental health. This is especially important in January which can be a characteristically tough month.
The Benefits of RED January
- Improving your physical and mental health in the cold, dark months of January.
- It is a free and all-inclusive way of increasing your activity levels.
- Setting goals for the month is a great way of sticking to your plans and achieving what you want to achieve.
- Making activity part of your everyday life is excellent for developing good, healthy habits.
RED January is a terrific thing to get involved with. However there are a few pitfalls to avoid, especially if you are not already very active. Here are three things to consider if you are planning on joining in with RED January….
1: You Don't Have To Run!
While the initial meaning of RED was “Run Every Day”, the underlying principle, and the slogan Mind are now using, has been altered to “Active every day, your way”.
If you are new to running, or even if you’re not, running every day is often not a good idea. The body needs time to recover, especially from high impact sports like running. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be active every day. In fact, taking regular breaks from running to participate in other activities can actually help your running – more than running every day would!
A few ideas to keep active on the days you don’t run:
- Walking – lower impact than running and great for recovery days. Getting out in nature is great for mental health as well as improving fitness.
- Yoga & Pilates – Excellent for improving mobility, strength and bodily awareness. Connecting the body with the mind is another excellent method of improving mental health.
- Strength Training – Improving your strength is an excellent way of improving your robustness and preventing injury.
- Swimming or Cycling – No-impact exercise for improving cardiovascular fitness.
2: Listen To Your Body
Setting a goal and sticking to it is an amazing feeling. Sometimes however, the short term goals have to take a back seat to the longer term.
It’s natural that being active every day will leave you tired at times. This is especially true if you are not already very active. Knowing when to push through fatigue is a difficult thing. The key is to try and really connect with and get to know your body. If you feel you need it, then dial the activity back for a day or two. You can still be active by simply taking a walk or doing a bit of yoga.
Injury is also a possibility, so again, listen to your body. Exercising through the pain just because you feel you need to complete your short term goal is counter-productive. If you’re feeling sore or in pain, look for alternative ways of staying active. Swimming or cycling are often good alternatives to running. Yoga and Pilates are gentle forms of activity that can help relieve tired bodies and refresh the mind.
3: Do It For The Right Reasons
The purpose of RED January is to improve physical and mental health. This can be purely for yourself, or you can use it to build awareness of mental health issues. You can fundraise for charity or simply use social media to make people more aware of the links between physical and mental health.
However you are using RED January, the end goal should be to bring something good to the world – either personally or to the wider world. Using it as a way of simply boasting on social media is counter to the aims of the initiative.
So if you’re preparing for an active start to the year with RED January, I hope you have a good one. Use it to improve your physical and mental health, and that of the people around you. Look for exciting and different ways of staying active. Feel the link between physical and mental health, and learn to listen to your body. Be safe, and most importantly – have fun!