Exercise & Mental Health

Being Active

Getting enough exercise and being active can be important for both your mental and physical health. Some medications might make you feel more tired, however, moderate exercise can help to improve: 

Your mood 

Your general wellbeing

How you feel about yourself

How much physical exercise?

Any exercise is better than none, If you are aged between 19-64, guidelines say you should do about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, broken up into chunks, so you should be able to tailor things to your own personal lifestyle and commitments. Moderate exercise could include such things as:

Quick Walk

Riding a bike (on ground level)



Moderate activity will raise your heartbeat and, perhaps, break you into a sweat, but you should not push it so that you’re too breathless to talk.

Jogging or Running



These intense activities will undoubtedly raise your heartbeat quite a bit compared to a moderate workout, so a 75-minute workout a week would be comparable to a 150-minute moderate workout.

If you haven’t done any exercise for some time, then it’s advisable to build up your workout routine over a period of time, taking advice from your GP as necessary if suffering from any other underlying conditions.

Mental well-being

Physical exercise is not only important for your body’s health, it also helps your brain stay sharp. Your brain is no different than the rest of the muscles in your body. You utilise the gym to stimulate the growth of muscle cells, just as you use a brain fitness program to increase connections in your brain. Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts.

  • Increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain.
  • Aids release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.

What is well-being?

The government defines this as ‘a positive physical, social and mental state. Mental wellbeing does not have a singular universal definition, but it does encompass factors such as: 

  • A sense of feeling good about ourselves.
  • Ability to deal with the ups and downs life throws at us.
  • Feeling part of a community and surroundings.
  • Having control and freedom over our lives.
  • Having a sense of purpose.
  • Feeling valued.

This does not mean being happy all the time and it doesn’t mean you won’t experience negative or painful emotions, but whatever your age, being physically active can help you to lead a mentally healthier life and can improve wellbeing.

Impact of physical activity on well-being

Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Participation in regular physical exercise can: 

  • Increase our self-esteem.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Improve the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.
  • Play a part in preventing the development of mental health problems.


There are many benefits to physical activity for your mental well-being. Below are a few examples of the benefits that are offered:

Your mood

Physical exercise has shown a positive impact on our mood. Researchers have found that people who regularly have some sort of physical exercise felt more content, more awake, calmer, compared to after periods of inactivity. They also found that the greatest effect on mood was when our mood was initially low.

Impact on stress

Physical exercise can be very effective in relieving stress with research showing that active individuals tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active. 


Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. It’s a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors. Physical exercise has been shown to have a positive influence on our self-esteem and self-worth, with that relationship found throughout across both males and females and throughout various generations from children to older people. 

Depression and Anxiety

Physical exercise can be an alternative treatment for depression and can be an empowering approach that supports self-management. It has few side effects and does not have the stigma that some people perceive to be attached to taking medications or attending psychotherapy and counselling.

Overcoming barriers

It can be a bit scary making changes to your life and it’s natural to feel anxious about trying something new. Some common barriers include:


Injury or illness

Lack of energy

Fear of failure


Body image

Exercising with a companion or someone you trust or are comfortable with, can help to reduce feeling anxious and may be particularly helpful during the first few exercise sessions as you build your own self-confidence. 

Tips for making change

Continuously exercising and thinking about being active may be hard, especially when feeling depressed. Therefore, here are some tips to make sure you can succeed:

Make time

whatever time you have available for exercise, choose something that fits into your busy schedule.

Be practical

Will you need support? Do you know the cost involved? Can you make it more affordable? Does your change impact on others?

Right for you

Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it’s right for you. 

Start slowly

Don’t just rush in. Build your exercise regime gradually, setting yourself, perhaps, some goals to achieve as you build it.

Make it part of your daily routine

Once started, make the change an integral part of your day to day life. It could simply be as easy as walking up a flight of stairs rather than using the lift.

Welcome Pack

The downloadable PDF below includes important information about our vision, process and team. This welcome pack will allow you to gain knowledge on the issues we are trying to resolve.