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October 30, 2011

How to get rid of the winter blues – Positivity breeds success

by Val Reynolds
Kelly Holmes at De Vere Village Wirral 30 Oct

Kelly Holmes at De Vere Village Wirral 30 Oct

The clocks may have just gone back and the world economy may still be teetering on the brink, but a positive mind and a healthy heart can beat the winter blues, according to Dame Kelly Holmes.

The Olympic legend has been sprinting between Manchester and Liverpool this weekend inspiring over 3,000 locals across four De Vere Village hotels with one clear message: ‘Positivity breeds success’.

A leading psychology academic also believes evidence suggests that winter-induced mood swings can be fixed with a bit of physical activity.

Dame Kelly, who designed De Vere Village’s fitness plans for all ages and fitness levels, believes that people shouldn’t give up on exercise just because the days are getting shorter.

Dame Kelly said: “Times are hard for many people right now, but fitness really is one thing that people should not give up on. It’s not just about the mental kick of looking good, it’s about the energy you have and the happiness you feel as a result. The better you feel, the better you’ll perform in whatever you do – whether it’s a day job or a sports event.

“Most important is a positive attitude. Despite all my injuries I still knew what I wanted to achieve.”

Dr Jason Halford, head of experimental psychology at University of Liverpool, said: “People who exercise are shown to be more motivated and this can help on many levels. Exercise is shown to produce a positive uplift in mood. Given that the ‘winter blues’ are just a bad mood, exercise can elate you to avoid that sense of feeling depressed.

“Obviously people over-consume food or alcohol if they are depressed or have a low mood, so one could argue that things like exercise could elevate people’s mood and make them less likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviours.

“Exercise is one means of reducing stress, it helps with sleep patterns by relieving nervous tension and reducing levels of cortisol – a hormone that can cause heart disease and psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression.”

Gary Davis, chief executive of De Vere Village, said: “Unlike regular hotels, we drive a third of our revenue through our full blown fitness centres with cardio gyms, fitness classes and pools with an average of 4,000 local members at each location. We believe that our clubs are a benefit to the local community and positive fitness for the family definitely improves lives and attitude.”

Dame Kelly added: “My work with De Vere Village is all about inspiring people and getting people in the right space so fitness can make a real difference to themselves. And with the Games less than a year away, there’s no better time. I think it’s absolutely vital that the North takes some of the glory too and doesn’t let London scoop up all the benefits. There are plenty of great things to do, so it’s essential we get sports fans up to Liverpool and Manchester too.”

“Although I grew up on a council estate in Kent, I always had a sense that anything was possible. My Saturdays were spent working in a sweetshop, so being able to spend my weekends inspiring people now and sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way is fantastic.”

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Kate Campbell says: I have a love hate relationship with exercise. When I haven’t been active for a while the effort of restarting is so huge that it seems impossible to get going again. However, what works for me is to just do a minute one day! Then 2-3 minutes the next, and I generally find (because I am an on/off exercise person) that because I begin to feel better – clearer head, less aching in my limbs, I want to get on with longer sessions. The aim is an hour of course, that’s what I usually achieve – swimming, or walking, or cycling. At the moment it 5 minutes max! But I haven’t had a single headache in the last three days … so I’m off to work on the turbo trainer again today. Don’t know what a turban trainer is? It’s what serious cyclists use to warm up before racing events … I use the one my husband bought to keep exercised during the winter months. It’s the same as an exercise bike really, but I use mine outside in a covered way so I can imagine I’m outdoors! With my iPod I can listen to music, podcasts or best of all brush up on my French with a Teach Yourself French Course! It all works together, I promise you!

Kate Campbell, contributing author.

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