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Let's Get Physical Report: The impact of physical activity on well-being

Published by the UK Mental Health Foundation (2013)


It is impossible to read a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the health benefits of physical activity. The messages have been clear that being active is important in terms of managing weight and preventing chronic illness (such as Type 2 diabetes).

Despite this growing interest in the role of physical activity in managing health and reducing obesity, there has been relatively little corresponding change in people’s activity levels. National surveys show that currently only one-third of the population meet UK physical activity  guidelines. In part, this may be a result of being told that we should increase our activity levels to ‘fix our health deficits leaving us feeling negative about ourselves and guilty when we do not do more. Within this report we aim to examine physical activity through a diff lens and consider the role it can  play in enhancing our psychological well-being and mental health. We aim to make the case that physical activity does not need to be a chore, but can instead be something that we do to enhance well-being. Perhaps may even be something we might come to see as fun that we look forward to.

The primary aim of this report is to ask that we reconsider the way that we view physical activity in the UK: from a behaviour which we do because we ‘have to’, ‘should do’ or ‘ought to do’ for our health, to something that we feel improves our lives. In other words: to view physical activity ‘as a pleasure and not a chore’. Furthermore we aim to make the case that physical activity is something that can protect mental health. We are living in times where there seems so much to worry about. The difficult financial climate, environmental challenges, welfare reform, terrorist threats, public health scares – the list is endless and it can feel as though much of life is outside of our individual control, leaving people feeling stressed and unsure how to best to cope. However, within this report we will make the case that taking steps to become more active is something that we personally can do to help us deal with the stress brought about by uncertainty and to feel positive about ourselves and our lives.

Download the report: Lets Get Physical Report

Let's Get Physical Report

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