We all have mental health just as we have physical health. As our bodies can become unwell, so can our minds. Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. But keeping active can have a positive impact on mental health!


Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to contribute to her or his community (WHO 2014). Mental health is continuum ranging from good mental health to poor mental health;

Poor mental health includes mental health problems or mental illness, this affect people of any age, race, religion or income. It is not a result of personal weakness, flaws in character or poor upbringing.

Whilst Positive mental health is when one accepts self on realistic standards, confident, life feels manageable, eating and sleeping well.

As we move up and down the continuum at varying degrees at different points in our lives. There are actions that we can take to improve our mental wellbeing, which can strengthen our resilience to developing a mental health problem. A study completed with Loughborough university found that programmes are most successful when they are delivered in partnership between mental health services and mainstream sports and physical activity providers.

Mental wellbeing looks and feels differently for us all. It is a term used to describe the wider set of feelings and thought that influence our emotions and day to day behaviour. Having good mental wellbeing can strengthen our resilience to developing a meta health problem- or help someone cope better with an existing mental health problem

What can you do?

The New Economics Foundation has research and developed a set of actions we can all take every day to improve our mental health and wellbeing!

  1. Connect: Ask someone how their day is going or spending breaks chatting to colleagues.
  2. Be Active: Use the stairs instead of lift or go for a walk at lunchtime
  3. Take Notice: Try a different route on your journey to or from work/ University or on your daily walk/run/ cycle
  4. Learn: Try something new read the newspaper or complete a crossword
  5. Give: Be generous with your time if someone needs to talk

How can Sport and Physical Activity affect me?

  1. Exercise is associated with increased mental alertness.
  2. Exercise can lead to an increase in energy and positive mood.
  3. Exercise can lead to an increase in self-esteem.
  4. Exercise results in the reduction of stress and anxiety.
  5. Exercise can prevent the development of mental health problems.
  6. Exercise can improve the quality of life of those who are experiences mental health problems.
  7. Exercise can improve mood, as when exercising, brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (sometimes called feel good hormones) which can calm anxiety and lift mood.
  8. Exercise can improve sleep through the release of serotonin.

Being physically active is good for our mental health. In fact it is so good that NICE recommend it:

  • As a primary intervention for mild to moderate depression
  • To be session of 45 mins to 1 hour
  • Three times a week over a 10-14-week periods

The chief medical officer describes physical activity as a miracle cure for many long-term health conditions, it is important to recognise that whilst physical activity is incredibly powerful it doesn’t work for everyone. There are lots of barriers that make it difficult to get started and many people need a mixture of talking therapies, medication and lifestyle changes.