The second “One Mile an Hour – 24” is scheduled for June 7 and 8 at Appoquinimink High School. And this simple public awareness campaign has turned into a full-blown community participation event.

It was a simple concept...at first. We only wanted to run one mile every hour for 24 straight hours. I’m not really sure what the genesis of the idea was, but we knew we wanted to do it. And we knew we wanted people to know about it.

The positive mental health benefits of running and exercise have been well documented over the years. Multiple studies have all reached the same conclusion, that regular aerobic exercise such as running helps to reduce symptoms associated with clinical depression. But benefits go well beyond the direct mental health improvements.

Cardio exercises like running, brisk walks and jogging are also associated with improved cognitive function, improved sleep patterns, improved self-esteem and improved creativity. It’s also directly related to reduced anxiety, weight, aging and even helps the brain heal from substance abuse. It’s not a cure-all for everything, but running certainly is a medication-free option for many of us who suffer from mental health issues.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites a book by two cognitive behavioral experts, “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety” that shows regular walks as short as 10 minutes can relieve depression and anxiety, a condition that affects over 40 million Americans. Hmmm…A 10-minute walk/jog? So how far can someone go in about 10-15 minutes?

The second “One Mile an Hour – 24” is scheduled for June 7 and 8 at Appoquinimink High School’s athletic facility. And this simple public awareness campaign has turned into a full-blown community participation event. And everyone, even YOU, can find 10-15 minutes to go for a walk, jog or run.

During the “One Mile an Hour – 24,” you can join us and your neighbors (for free, by the way – there’s no entry fee) at the top of each hour, for one mile. If you’re feeling really ambitious, two miles. Or even 24? The hope and goal really are to remind us that feeling blue can happen to anyone, and that feelings of depression, anxiety and even suicide are not to be ignored or silenced, but shared in a way that promotes positive healing. If we can walk or run a mile together, we can find we aren’t alone in our struggles.

During the 2018 “One Mile an Hour – 24” event, over 740 cumulative miles were walked or run, by nearly 200 different people. Seven of us did all 24. And although it wasn’t the point of the exercise, we also raised over $7,000 towards mental health and suicide prevention programs administered by the Mental Health Association in Delaware, a 501c-3 non-profit group that provides supports for teens, veterans and interventionist training.

To get more specific information of the numerous studies on exercise and mental health awareness, start here: https://www.podiumrunner.com/10-mental-health-benefits-running_165899. The links throughout the article will help shed light on various studies and first-hand accounts. You can also visit www.mhainde.org for local programs, events and such.

So why run one mile each hour for 24 hours? Well, why not? Come out and share a part of you with others and let’s have a conversation. We’re not meant to be isolated and we’re not meant to be sedentary. We’re meant to talk and move!

The “One Mile” starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 7 and will finish at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 8. And in between, we’ll heal, one mile an hour. Check out www.onemileanhour24.com.

I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.