How physical activity helps mental health

Physical activity is about getting our bodies moving.

It doesn’t have to mean taking part in triathlons or climbing the tallest mountains and can be as simple as dancing while doing the dishes, gardening on a cool summer’s day or even following a sitting exercise routine during the ad breaks of our favourite shows! 

Being active is known to be beneficial for our physical health but it can do wonders for our mental health too. Here are four ways we can help boost our mental health by getting up and getting active:

Better sleep

Sleep problems can both be the cause and effect of poor mental health. Some of us may struggle to sleep because of our mental health and others may have poor mental health because we are working on limited sleep and are not properly resting our bodies and minds.  

Physical activity helps improve our sleep as it uses energy and helps us feel more tired by the end of the day, therefore making it easier to fall asleep. 

Try going for a walk in the morning to get your day started or even taking a short stroll after eating in the evening to help you wind down.

Happier moods and better self-esteem

Physical activity releases plenty of feel-good hormones, such as: 

  • Endorphins, which make you feel happy.
  • Dopamine, which helps you feel more confident and motivated.
  • Adrenaline, which helps you feel more capable.  

Regularly releasing these hormones may also help avoid experiencing periods of depression.

Physical activity also helps us to perceive ourselves in a more positive light due to feelings of self-improvement, having routine and goal-setting, which then improves self-esteem and confidence and can help tackle negative thoughts about ourselves. 

Activity is moving your body anyway you can, raising your heart rate to release your endorphins. It is then, when you start to feel alive, with your body listening to everything your mind says. “I feel great,” “I feel amazing,” “I feel happy.” With this positive attitude in Mind…nothing can stop you! Activity is medicine, so let’s move to feel good.

Managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts

As well as helping to boost our self-esteem and happiness, physical activity can also help us to manage stress, anxiety and intrusive thoughts.  

Activity helps reduce cortisol levels, the main stress hormone, which can harm our mental health if our levels are too high. Regulating these levels helps us manage stress, anxiety and mood swings, and taking part in physical activity also gives us something to focus on which can be a positive coping method for those going through difficult times.

Connecting with people

Joining group or team activities helps you meet new like-minded people which can improve mental health particularly if it is a result of feelings of loneliness. It gives us an opportunity to make new friends as well as providing motivation, as those people may become support systems who help encourage one another to get active and socialise!

Here are a few you can join!

If this has inspired you to get active and you love a challenge – look no further!

Will you Move for Mind in 2023?

Move for Mind is back and it’s time to rally your team.


In the new year we challenge you to set yourself a 30 day exercise and fundraising goal.

You can dance, swim, walk, climb, run, cycle – so long as you’re moving and having fun, it counts.  You choose how you want to get active to raise money and help us fight to ensure everyone gets the respect and support they deserve.

Read more about how you can get involved in Move for Mind.


Alexa, play Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

Posted on: 17th August 2022

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