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Beat the Winter Blues with RED January

RED January returns next month with its annual month-long public health campaign empowering people across the UK to move every day in January to support their own mental health and raise funds to help others. Since it started, more than 200,000 people have taken part in raising millions of pounds for mental health charities.

The success of the campaign is demonstrated by research undertaken by the University of Oxford, which shows that 74% of participants in RED January reported being more active than usual during the month. On average, participants’ weekly activity was up by 41% per week in the final week of January compared to the week before starting.

The research also showed the positive impact taking part in the campaign has with more than half (54%) of participants stating they had a significant improvement in their happiness and a reduction in anxiety.

This is particularly important during the winter when there is evidence that rates of depression are higher, and people report feeling lower down more often. Allied to this is the fact that people are less active than in the spring and summer.

Getting involved in the campaign is simple - sign up at join thousands getting involved. Participants can pick their own favourite way to move and set their own goals for activity levels. While many do an activity they know well, more than a quarter (28%) pick a new one.

As well supporting themselves, participants support others too by raising funds for Sport in Mind, the mental health charity that uses sport to empower and improve people’s lives. Sport in Mind's innovative programmes are delivered in partnership with the NHS and are co-designed by people with personal experience of mental health challenges and healthcare professionals. The money raised as part of peoples RED January experience will help Sport in Mind launch life-changing sports programmes in every city and town around the UK.

Hannah Beecham, Founder of RED January and Speakers Collective member comments: “I was originally inspired to start RED January after witnessing the transformative effect that regular movement had on my mum’s mental health, specifically during the winter period, a time when many of us need a boost in motivation. We are delighted to be launching our seventh year of the campaign and are looking forward to motivating more people to move for their mental health this winter!”

Dr Brendon Stubbs, one of the leading researchers into movement and mental health said:

“The research is clear, movement is a fantastic way to help maintain and improve our mental health. January can be a difficult month and starting with a positive intention of moving in a community for individual and societal benefit, has all of the key evidence-based ingredients to make a real difference. The RED January campaign is the largest of its kind, which has enabled one of the largest pieces of research in this area. It is very pleasing to see the far-reaching benefits RED January has and continues to make. I would actively encourage everyone to give it a go.”

Quotes from participants involved in the research with the University of Oxford included:

  • “My energy levels are up, and I am mentally feeling stronger already.”

  • “Feels great to have a routine and clear my head each day. I need this now more than ever.”

  • “[The challenge helps to]…kick start a change in how you view yourself. Or how you view your mental health and how you want to look after yourself.”

As well as having Sport in Mind as a charity partner, RED January is also being actively supported by Decathlon and Happiful.

Hannah Beecham is a member of the Speakers Collective and is also a regular speaker at corporate events, universities and schools, spreading the word about the benefits of physical activity on our health.

She has penned a RED January magazine column, appeared on mental wellbeing panels and has taken to the stage to speak at the leading health and fitness events in the UK.

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