The following article is written by one of Employment Advisors, Ashley Winter, about how physical activity has benefitted his mental health.

All movement is good movement, a phrase I’ve heard recently by a physio whilst at my father’s bedside in ICU, it certainly got me wondering why I’ve been doing as much as I have been. For as long as I can remember I’ve been physically active, during my time in the military, and the time following discharge it’s always been my release, my get away, my medicine. Hill walks, runs, swimming, cycling, skiing, football, you name it, and I’ve tried it but, in all honesty, I find going for a walk the most stress releasing activity, there is no pressure and not even any kit needed. I would advise on a decent pair of socks and boots/trainers and a waterproof jacket and you’re all set. Be it 1 mile or 10 miles plus it’s such a great way of being active, feeling good and usually a good view!

I’ve had injuries resulting in poor mental health and getting back into the great outdoors is just a great feeling. I was rock bottom, feeling lower than I ever have before with all kinds of things going around my head, I firmly believe the drive to the countryside and a 20 minute walk was part of the solution to my recovery – but I come back to all movement is good movement, and that 20 minute walk could even have been a 10 minute stretching session, or a tai chi class, a cycle ride or an invigorating wild swim.

During my time transitioning from the military, I was fortunate enough to be involved with some wonderful organisations to support me both physically and mentally, giving me the platform to push myself and my injuries even further, with the initial goal of becoming the best version of me, followed by supporting others in similar situations/illness and most recently raising money for charity.

Whilst on stage in front of the whole charity I decided to make a statement of intent. Not only to fundraise for a wonderful cause, but another excuse for me to get moving, to start training again and to push myself to do something I’ve not done before. Initially I announced that I would be attempting two back-to-back ultra marathons, however due to the nature of my injuries I was advised against this, and following the advice I arranged three events within the first six months of 2024 as part of Mental Health Matters 40th Birthday celebrations.

February saw a 10k trail over the lovely Malvern Hills (really this was a bit of a test event to see how my training was going). April saw me complete the London Marathon “My Way”, their version of a virtual run – in and around Hereford (Over 40k for 40 years of MHM). This marathon was in memory of family friend Jon Ward, an ultimate marathon runner, a legend of the running community who sadly died in 2020.

In June I will attempt a virtual ultra of 80k over a period of days culminating on the 6th June 2024, exactly 80 years on from D Day. My aim is to complete this in as little amount of time as possible without aggravating my injuries, bringing me back to my original point, all movement is good movement, you don’t have to run a marathon, swim the channel or cycle LEJOG, its all about YOU and what you want to achieve. Use the great outdoors to support good mental health. If you want to track my progress or donate to MHM, please follow the link below, thanks so much for the continued support.

Ashley Winter is fundraising for Mental Health Matters (

Written by Ashley Winter, MHM Mental Health Employment Advisor.