Alistair Bates, Rotarian and runner for Teams Best Beginnings and Heads Together, reflects on how exercising has not just helped his physical health, but has also supported his mental wellbeing and given him a sense of control and order in his life.  This is his story:

"I was a very late addition to the Best Beginnings' team and I am very grateful to Eve Conway, President of the Rotary Great Britain & Ireland, for putting me forward. I initially was a little unsure about the "WhatsApp" group because it is relatively unfamiliar territory but Dayna (Best Beginnings' Interim Fundraising and Events Manager) gave me a great deal of support, particularly when I got anxious about the amount of fundraising. She provided me with both mental and practical support including setting up alternative opportunities such as attending Rotary conference. She publicised my fundraising video as part of this programme."

"I really felt part of the team after visiting the launch of Out of the Blue, a series of films by Best Beginnings to support parents' mental health. As I have never been a parent, I had never really thought about the mental health implications of being a new parent. The idea that a parent supposed to be overjoyed and capable when most of the time they are unsure and vulnerable really echoed my own anxieties in social situations. I also began to appreciate the lack of "control" the parents can feel as they meet unexpected or challenging situations. I took up exercise as a direct way of trying to have something in my life that I could "control" and gave me some order."

"The support from Best Beginnings continued and again Dayna was great as she supported me in meeting Prince Harry and finding out that no matter one's position or status, mental health difficulties are a constant challenge. The actual race was all a bit of a blur. I had not realised just how big it all was, but it was knowing that I was supporting an outstanding charity and was being supported enabled me to keep "running" when everything inside was telling me that I could not do it. I was delighted to finish (even though the tracker had me at 40KM for nearly a week) and the atmosphere afterwards was unbelievable, particularly when walking to the underground when complete strangers congratulated me."

"My Heads Together vest has had a number of subsequent outings at triathlons and in the London to Brighton Challenge and on several occasions other participants have acknowledged Heads Together and the work it has done in raising the profile of mental illness and I am delighted that there have been pledges to support mental health services from the major political parties."

Alistair continues to exercise for his mental health and will be tackling the three day festival of cycling, the Prudential RideLondon.