New wellbeing initiative mayathon launches to help Brits be active, stay well and cope with isolation

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Today sees the official launch of mayathon, a brand new, free app aimed at helping people improve their physical and mental wellbeing and to stay connected, particularly during this period of social distancing.

Available to download on the App Store and Google Play, mayathon helps users buddy up virtually with a friend, family member or colleague via the easy-to-use app and complete 26 minutes of exercise a day, which allows users to build streaks and win medals

The “may” in mayathon stands for “Me And You”, reflecting the importance of the buddy system, while “athon” comes from marathon. The 26 miles of the race inspired the benchmark figure of 26 minutes of exercise each day, combined with the fact that 26 minutes of exercise on six days out of seven exceeds the UK Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Nearly two thirds of UK adults are overweight or obese [1], and even before social distancing was implemented, one in six Britons reported experiencing a common mental health problem like anxiety or depression in any given week [2]. Now, as the public will be staying in their homes as much as possible due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is vitally important that people stay active and also connected – and mayathon will help them do that.

It is acknowledged that as well as increasing energy levels and boosting the immune system, being active can also help improve people’s mood and reduce stress and anxiety [3]. This relationship between regular activity and better mental health in part explains why government guidelines during the coronavirus crisis have focused on allowing people to maintain regular exercise where possible.

mayathon’s buddy system addresses some of the primary reasons why many people fail to start exercising, even when they want to – they either have no-one to do it with, or don’t know how to get started. By using the buddy system, where mayathoners are encouraged to pair up virtually, mayathon provides a fun and friendly platform for people to support each other and get on the path to forming a long-lasting exercise habit.

Robert Tansey, CEO and founder of mayathon, who previously led Sky’s ground-breaking cycling initiatives which inspired an additional 1.6m Britons to cycle regularly, said: “mayathon is all about helping people be more active, feel happier and support a friend. The impact of coronavirus and the measures to contain it have completely changed many people’s daily lives, but it’s clearer than ever that we need to stay physically active and connected to other people to help cope with these changes.

“mayathon is not about athletic performance and mayathoners can do whatever type of exercise they feel comfortable with, as long as they adhere to government guidelines on social distancing. We’d like as many people as possible to join in and hope that we can do some good in these difficult times.”

mayathon ambassador and fitness expert Marvin Ambrosius said: “With so many people’s daily routines changing beyond all recognition, some time in the day dedicated to physical activity can really help maintain a sense of balance. And what’s brilliant about mayathon is having a buddy there to help encourage and support you – this app can help so many people, no matter their current level of fitness.”

Phil Smith, director of sport at Sport England, said: “It’s fantastic to see social enterprises like mayathon helping the nation get active and improve their overall wellbeing. mayathon’s buddy system is particularly interesting as our own insight shows that having someone to support you in your exercise is a big factor in helping people make that key step from thinking about exercise to actually doing it.”