A PERSONAL trainer and jog leader says she is encouraged by the surge in people taking up running during lockdown.

Lesley Kerr has been running for more than ten years and has competed in the London, Paris and Berlin marathons, as well as Transvulcania – a gruelling race in La Palma.

She believes that there has been a rise in those pounding the pavements for a variety of reasons, whether people are running for the first time or regulars taking to the outdoors with gyms closed.

Lesley said: “Established runners and exercisers have been using it as a coping mechanism and a part of their routine which has been thankfully unaffected.

“There has most definitely been an upsurge in the number of runners out and about at this time.

“It could be that more people now have the time to indulge in a little time for themselves and can fit some daily exercise in.

“For many I would hope that the physical and mental benefits are now being felt and this is something they will want to continue when some sort of normality resumes.”

Lesley thinks that although lockdown has been tough for everyone, some positive changes can come out of it for those looking to get fitter and healthier.

She said: “In general I believe lockdown has made many people reassess their priorities in life and make positive changes in terms of nutrition and movement. I really hope it lasts when the restrictions are lifted.

“It may be the case that by taking some virtual classes, doing some home exercise or going some long walks that people now have the self-belief and the confidence to join a gym or a running group.

“Fitness comes in many forms, in strange times like this it should always be health over fitness.

“Look after your mind and your body and most importantly be active by doing something that you enjoy and that you can sustain.”

Lesley believes it is the ideal time for people to make changes to their lives, whether through exercise or everyday routines.

She said: “Undoubtedly with less traffic on the roads running, walking and cycling has had a safer feel to it, especially along the farm and B class roads.

“From this point of view, lockdown has been a great time to get out and about while leaving the car at home.

“I have many friends who have changed their daily commute from a drive to a walk, run or cycle which from and environmental perspective can only be a good thing.

“From a mental health point of view, beginning and finishing your working day with some fresh air, exercise and reflection time is invaluable to wellbeing.”

The personal trainer is encouraging North Coast residents to think about their own health and how they small changes can make a big difference.

Lesley, who operates RunWestKilbride, said: “As we come out of lockdown, I would encourage everyone to re-evaluate their own health whether it's making better food choices or being more active.

“It's the manageable but sustainable things that matter - drink more water each day, include fruit and vegetables with each meal, have a meat-free day or go a walk and explore the local area.

“I hope to have my group up and running again when restrictions are eased. It will be aimed at beginners and spaces will be limited to adhere to social distancing.

“If you are thinking about making changes and don't quite know how please feel free to contact me, I'm always happy to talk, health, fitness and running and point you in the right direction.”

RunWestKilbride normally meets on a Monday evening, however this has been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are interested in taking part, message ‘RunWestKilbride’ on Facebook to find out more.