The first month of the new decade is already over and without wanting to wish time away I, like a lot of my friends and colleagues, are quite glad to welcome in February as a step closer to spring.
January can be a tough month. It’s cold, it’s dark, coughs and colds seem to be everywhere and the pinch of the Christmas overspend suddenly bites.
During January, every time I opened a newspaper, there seemed to be an army of “influencers”, people I’d never heard of, telling us how we can make ourselves happier through changes in our lifestyle.
I read advice on everything from how to sleep better, eat better, exercise better, even breathe better.
The advice can be overwhelming and I think it can make us feel more anxious about how we’re living our lives.
So, my simple advice, is – to shamelessly plagiarise Baz Luhrman’s Everybody’s Free spoken word song – “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 2020, get involved in parkrun.”
Parkrun is a free, weekly, 5km timed run. They take place all around the world and they’re safe, easy to take part in and open to everyone.
Parkrun is not a race. You can run, shuffle or walk the 5km. And if you don’t want to do any of those things, you can help marshal the course with a hot drink to keep you warm.
There are five parkruns in Brighton and Hove. You can find them on Bevendean Down, in East Brighton Park, Hove Park, on Hove Promenade and in Preston Park.
They all take place every Saturday at 9am. It’s been a real hit in the local community on many levels. It’s helped people to improve their fitness and their mental health too.
It’s well known that even the mildest of exercise stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin – brain chemicals which play an important part in making us feel better.
Parkrun has really helped people to feel less isolated and supported them to meet people and feel part of their community, which again is proven to help people feel happier.
Last Saturday’s East Brighton parkrun saw Brighton and Hove city councillors from all political parties taking part.
My runny nose – what did I say about coughs and colds in January! – meant I was on marshalling duty but, despite the muddy course, everyone had a great run.
Congratulations to Councillor Robert Nemeth who was first over the finish line. The victory certainly put a smile on his face.
But to coin another adage it’s the taking part that really counts. Have a look at the parkrun website for more information and get involved. It’ll make you feel better.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.