Book Review: Jog On by Bella Mackie

Divorced and struggling with deep-rooted mental health problems, Bella Mackie ended her twenties in tears. She could barely find the strength to get off the sofa, let alone piece her life back together. Until one day she did something she had never done of her own free will – she pulled on a pair of trainers and went for a run.

That first attempt didn’t last very long. But to her surprise, she was back out there the next day. And the day after that. She began to set herself achievable goals – to run 5k in under 30 minutes, to walk to work every day for a week, to attempt 10 push-ups in a row. Before she knew it, her mood was lifting for the first time in years.

In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her main loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. With the help of a supporting cast of doctors, psychologists, sportspeople and friends, she shares a wealth of inspirational stories, research and tips that show how exercise often can be the best medicine. This funny, moving and motivational book will encourage you to say ‘jog on’ to your problems and get your life back on track – no matter how small those first steps may be.

What I Thought:

Although the link between exercise and good mental health has, for the most part, been widely accepted, for many people with depression and anxiety the thought of pulling on a pair of trainers and going for a run is something like hell.

That’s why it is great to read a book whose author acknowledges that yes, her first run, and her second, third and fourth WERE hell, but that there is a light at the end of the running tunnel if it’s something you would like to try. There are by no means any quick fixes in this book – reading it will not make anxiety and depression disappear into thin air, but it does show that the author was able to make genuine improvements in her mental health, starting from her being prostrate on the floor and unable to leave the house.

Jog on by Bella Mackie is just one woman’s story of how she began to take control of her own mental health, but there is a lot in it whatever position you’re coming from. Alongside her own experience, there is a lot of information and stats about the state of the UK’s mental health and – most importantly I think – loads of information on where you can go next after reading the book, in the form of phone numbers and online information services.

All through the book, it very much feels like you’re reading along with someone who knows what it’s like to have really poor mental health (I hesitate to say suffer from…) and can offer something more than solutions – she can offer companionship and a sense that whatever your mental state, you are not alone.

I was inspired several years ago to start the C25K programme, after reading Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley, but with one thing or another I let it drop and my fitness lagged once again. Reading Jog On has persuaded me to don the trainers again and get back out there, with the ultimate aim of completing the Race for Life but, whatever your goals for your own fitness or your mental health, this book is definitely a must-read.

Jog On is published by William Collins.

To find out more about Bella Mackie, you can connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.

Please note: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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