How physical activity benefits mental health

Friday 9th October 2020

We all know that being active can benefit our physical health. However, there are also brilliant benefits being active can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

These benefits can include;

  • increased positivity
  • better sleep
  • improved self-esteem
  • management of stress
  • greater connection with others from doing activities together


Supporting mental health

An example of a mental health condition that physical activity can help improve is depression. Affecting 121 million people worldwide, depression and anxiety have a huge impact on our collective health and wellbeing.

However, studies have shown that regular exercise can improve the symptoms of depression, such as low mood, tiredness, and low self-esteem . Moving your body more can boost your mood and is especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.

Being active has also been proven to help treat anxiety; research shows that just a single bout of exercise can help ease anxiety when it strikes. Getting active may also help with anxiety by allowing you to concentrate on something else and focussing your breathing.


Women exercising together

Getting started

Of course, it may be difficult to do regular exercise when you are unsure what you should be doing. Luckily, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical activity guidelines outline the physical activity needed for general health benefits. Ideally, we should all be aiming to do 150 minutes (that’s two and a half hours) of moderate physical activity a week. That means that you should be moving enough to be breathing heavier, but to still be able hold a conversation.


yoga at sunset

A word from Jude Taylor

Together Active’s CEO, Jude Taylor, says “As an organisation, we take mental health seriously and recognise the role physical activity can have in improving our mental wellbeing. We are passionate about both the physical and mental benefits of being physically active, and believe there is a way for everyone to get active in a way that suits you.”


For suggestions on how to get active in your own way, please see the NHS website here.

For advice on how to look after your mental health using exercise, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website here.