World Mental Health Day took place on 10th October and saw a host of sport industry organisations and partners showing their support for the occasion.
Even doing a small amount of physical activity each day can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health. Mental health is at the heart of the government’s Sporting Future strategy and over £8 million has already been invested in projects across the country – from community programmes to regional and national pilots.
The benefits of sport and physical activity on our mental health numerous, including:
- Improved mood– Studies show that physical activity has a positive impact on our mood. One study asked people to rate their mood after moderate exercise (i.e. walking or gardening) and after inactivity (i.e. reading a book). Researchers found that people felt more awake, calmer and more content after physical activity. For more information and a link to the study, go to the Mental Health Foundation website.
- Reduced stress– Being regularly active is shown to have a beneficial impact on alleviating stress. It can help manage stressful lifestyles and can help us make better decisions when under pressure. Research on working adults shows that active people tend to have lower stress rates compared to those who are less active.
- Better self-esteem– Physical activity has a big impact of our self-esteem in terms of how we feel about ourselves and our perceived self-worth. This is a key indicator of mental wellbeing. Those with improved self-esteem can cope better with stress and improve their relationships with others.
- Depression and anxiety– Exercise has been described as a “wonder drug” in the prevention and management of mental health. Many GPs now prescribe physical activity for depression, either on its own or in conjunction with other treatments. It is effective at both preventing onset of depression and in terms of managing symptoms.
Sport England has a number of community initiatives already in place to help those experiencing mental ill health be more active. In 2015, we awarded British Gymnastics Foundation £10,000 of National Lottery funding to deliver a chair-based gymnastics exercise programme called Love to Move. Its aim was to get older people moving and functioning better, especially those living with dementia.
Have a look at more of our case studies here.
More recently, Swim England released a survey which found swimming has significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain. Almost half a million people credit swimming with reducing mental health-related medical visits as well as enabling them to reduce their medication.
Find out more about their #LoveSwimming campaign here.