Themed Briefing - February 2021

The Positive Benefits of Physical Activity On Mental Health

What first comes to mind when you think about exercise? Is it the need to hit recommended daily activity levels to maintain physical health? Scheduling workouts throughout the week to stay physically fit? Getting that heart rate up to reach a target?

Movement, physical activity, sport and exercise are definitely important aspects of building muscle, strengthening heart health, and increasing our chances of living longer, fitter. But what about looking after our mental health? This is just as important when it comes to maintaining a sense of overall wellbeing and sport and physical activity can play a huge part.

In this month’s Themed Briefing we explore the positive benefits of physical activity on mental health and what a powerful tool it can be to really impact the effects of mental illness and poor mental health. The work of these three fantastic organisations really highlights how sport and physical activity can be a force to drive change when it comes to reaching people and how it can be used as a vehicle to sustain mental wellbeing in ways that have a lasting impact.


Sport In Mind 

Sport in Mind’s Development Manager, Laura Brooks, gives a great overview on how the charity grew out of a desire to support a friend experiencing mental health difficulties to now becoming the UK’s leading mental health sports charity.

Sport in Mind uses sport and physical activity to reach people suffering from poor mental health, building self-worth and confidence through a wide variety of sessions including yoga, football, tai-chi and badminton. Whatever the activity, the emphasis is always on providing fun and supportive sessions that can really have a positive impact on mental health (something we all have!).

The pandemic brought with it a new set of challenges with face-to-face sessions unable to take place but also presented an opportunity for the charity to support people who may not have been ready for that in-person contact.

Go Jauntly

Claudette, the Community and Sales manager at Go Jauntly shares how the Go Jauntly walking, wayfinding and nature connection app is aiming to become the world’s first app-based green prescription. Fantastic!

Walking and connecting with nature can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. In response to the pandemic, Go Jauntly developed a green routes feature that allows users to discover nearby nature routes to make the most of our daily exercise from the doorstep.

The simple act of walking and discovering nature, new routes and feeling more connected to our local surroundings is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety and Go Jauntly gives purpose and direction to daily meanders.

Full transcript available HERE.

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Rethink Mental Illness

Research shows that people severely affected by mental illness spend less time being active compared to the general population. 

Barry Lloyd leads on the Rethink Mental Illness Physical Activity Programme, designed to better understand how to support people living with severe mental illness and their carers to become more active.

Barry highlights the disparity that exists in health outcomes between the general population and those with a severe mental illness with research showing that they will die, on average, 20 years younger. This is often from preventable physical conditions where physical activity and lifestyle change can make a difference.

Rethink Mental Illness want to show that involvement in physical activity can improve symptoms of mental illness and recognise that working with those in the sport and physical activity sector as well as the healthcare sector is key to embedding these initiatives into communities.

Full transcript available HERE.

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