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‘It really has changed my life’ - Norwich woman on how cycling helped combat anxiety

PUBLISHED: 15:16 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:18 17 May 2018

Amanda McWhirter Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Amanda McWhirter Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council

People who suffer from stress and anxiety are being urged to follow the example of a Norwich woman who has found that cycling has changed her life.

To mark Mental Health Awareness week, Amanda McWhirter, 41, has spoken about how riding her bicycle - and the assistance she got from Norfolk County Council’s walking and cycling Pushing Ahead initiative - has helped her.

Mrs McWhirter, who lives in Norwich and works as a digital consultant for ALM Content Consultancy, has had anxiety and depression for a number of years.

She said her doctor told her “countless times” to exercise more, but she did not have the confidence to go to gyms or group exercise classes.

She had a bike in her garage “gathering dust” and got help from the council’s Pushing Ahead scheme and a route for her, using Marriott’s Way was planned out.

She said: “After getting my bike checked out to ensure it was roadworthy, I donned my safety gear and set out. The path was beautiful, 26 miles (I didn’t cycle it all at first) of Norfolk nature.

“With depression, your world often feels very dark and joyless but being amongst such beauty made me feel grateful and happy that I was lucky enough to live in such a lovely part of the world.

“Often I would stop to have a drink, rest up and just be mindful, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of what was around me.

“Rather than get anxious of the other people around me I’d be happy to stop and chat and share experiences – after all these were fellow cyclists taking the same journey as me so there was nothing to be scared of.”

After building up her cycling, she now uses her bicycle to commute to work. She said: “In the last twelve months, since beginning my cycling journey, I am unable to recall an occasion when a ride of any kind didn’t make potentially difficult life choices simpler, when the fears I had before stepping out of the door and climbing on the saddle didn’t dissipate once out on the road.

“Pushing Ahead has really given me the confidence to get me back on my bike and give it a go and I would encourage anyone suffering from stress to take up some form of exercise whether it’s riding a bike or going for a brisk walk. It really has changed my life.”

Further information on Pushing Ahead can be found at www.pushingaheadnorfolk.co.uk


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