Debbie Butler

February 13, 2015, by Lee Chrimes

How sport helped me manage my mental health

Ahead of the University’s Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Week, 16th – 22nd February, Debbie Butler, who is a masters student at the University, has very kindly agreed to give us her insight into how sport and physical activity helped her manage her own mental health.

Debbie’s Story

At 57 I am not your typical university student (if there is such a thing). I started my Masters last October and have really enjoyed making new relationships. Not just with people, but with the thrills and spills of academic writing and a love/hate relationship with referencing (who did invent that?). Not being a natural sporty person for many years, I did row for Nottingham in my youth after always being that last person to be picked for teams at school PE lessons. Last year, however, prior to starting university I returned to exercise, my favourite type being swimming. Right at the start benefits from this began to rear their head – weight started to drop off and the biggest thing was I realised how much it had changed my mood for the better. It changed me to the extent where I actually started to attend the gym as well. I started off really slow at lots of things but then got the bug and began meeting people and making new friends.

I have suffered with ill health most of my life, a big part of which has been my mobility. I have had numerous operations on my legs and feet over the last six years, and when I was handed the date for the next operation on both my feet I began to keep up with the exercise to strengthen my ankles. Having that positive mood from the exercise meant I had the strength to face the next op. It really helped.

Now the idea of my writing this is not to be twee or preach, but to genuinely help others understand from my experience that exercise, sport and especially the newfound feeling gained from partaking in it really does wonders. At the ripe old age of 57 it’s not always easy to take on board new things, but what I would say to the reader, especially those younger than me, is why not give it a go? I would love to hear from you to see how you get on.


For more details on the University’s Mental Health Week visit

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