Mental Health


Daily physical activity leads to a 20-30% lower risk of depression (SASA).


If you have a mental illness, regular physical activity helps improve sleep and self esteem, whilst reducing the amount of fatigue and pain you suffer (RCPSYCH).

Exercise reduces the symptoms of mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (RCPSYCH).

If you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, exercise helps reduce your symptoms and is best used in addition to your other treatments (FYSS; Jayakody 2014)

If you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, regular physical activity improves control of your mood and reduces the negative thoughts and feelings you experience (Cochrane 2010)

If you have severe mental illness, you are at higher risk of other medical problems such as heart disease. Regular exercise is a great way to counteract these risks and is available on the NHS along with dietary advice (NICE).


If you have major depression, exercise is just as effective as a common medication (Sertraline) and is better for relapse rates (Blumenthal 2007)

Exercise therapy and Cognitive Behavioural therapy are just as good as each other in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (Blumenthal 2013; Cochrane 2013)


If you suffer from depression or anxiety, supervised group exercise sessions two or three times per week is the most effective way to exercise (NICE).

If you’re on any strong medications for your mental health disorder make a big effort to avoid sitting for prolonged periods because your medications can make it hard to get up and about.

Further resources for Healthcare Professionals

Motivate to Move – Mental Health
FYSS - Depression
FYSS - Anxiety
FYSS - Schizophrenia