Active travel proves a mental health boost for county resident

A more active lifestyle has transformed Brendan's mental health

Man in countryside

One Leicestershire resident’s story has highlighted the mental health benefits of finding a different way to get to work.

This Mental Health Awareness Week is centred around how movement can help our mental health. For Thorpe Astley-based Brendan, a lorry driver by trade, moving to a more active lifestyle has transformed his mental health.

Brendan said: “I used to be a big cycle geek, but then poor mental health kicked in and I gave up the bike and drove everywhere instead. Recently my mental health had taken a dip again but this time I used my bike to get out and use it to clear my head.

“My mental health can be up and down but rather than jumping back to old habits and in the car, my cycling helps with my mental state when I’m feeling low.

“I have a nature reserve near to home and I make a point of riding through it every day after work to take a slow steady ride after a long day at work.

“I was driving to work but I now cycle 90 per cent of the week. Using the bike helps with my fitness a lot, as a lorry driver I don't get as much exercise in my job, so being able to ride to work every day does help a lot. Financially it makes a massive difference not driving as much by saving on fuel.”

Brendan keeps track of his activity by using the BetterPoints app, facilitated by the council’s Choose How You Move team. 

The app is used by more than 5,000 people across Leicester and Leicestershire, and users earn points for logging activities, like walking, cycling, or public transport. This entitles users to rewards, which can be used for high street vouchers or donated to local charities.

Brendan added: “What I like about the BetterPoints app is that it gets me doing more because I’m rewarded with points and there are daily points to win. It also keeps me up to date with all the different activities going on around the local area.

"I would encourage other people to download the BetterPoints app, get out there and do the same."

Just like Brendan, making different choices on how to travel can have a positive effect on both body and mind. Exercise and fresh air help to relieve negative emotions, and give a natural energy boost. It can also help to save money, such as fuel costs when driving.

Brendan is a fantastic example of the simple steps that can be made to help people improve their mental health.

I’m delighted to see that he has benefitted from changing to a more active way of travelling to and from work. I hope more people are inspired by his story and give walking, cycling, or wheeling a go instead of driving.

Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, cabinet member for highways and transport

More information on finding different ways to travel is available on the Choose How You Move website. The free BetterPoints app can be downloaded either in the App Store and on Google Play, with more detail available from Choose How You Move.

Leicestershire Matters

The A606 Burton Road will be closed for eight weeks from Monday, 1 July

Drivers warned to avoid flood water

In the last 12 months, 217 Leicestershire residents were conned out of almost £3m

Watch our meeting online

They have been granted the King’s Award for Enterprise

Boosting greener travel and creating better-connected communities