Movement for mental health

14 May 2024

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is 'Moving more for our mental health'. 

Studies show that physical activity can improve mood, self-esteem, and sleep, as well as reduce stress, depression, and anxiety levels. It also helps prevent and treat heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer, and more. Despite these benefits being well established, physical inactivity continues to be a global health issue.

In the UK, 36% of adults (aged 18+) do not meet the physical activity recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation.

The Mental Health Foundation - who created the awareness week - says keeping active doesn't always have to be doing sport and intense exercise. It can be walking, gardening or even doing the housework. As long as you are moving. 

At Sussex Partnership NHS Trust we support anything that gets people moving to improve their mental health. 

We recently joined forces with the University of Portsmouth to carry out a trial to look at the benefits outdoor swimming. 

Outdoor swimming has been hailed over the past few years as a way to improve health and wellbeing, but this is the first official clinical trial to explore the benefits of the activity in adults with depression. One of the researchers, Hannah Denton, explains more in this blog to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. 

As well as moving more, if you are struggling with your mental health you could also try:

  • Talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling 

  • Getting out in nature

  • Doing breathing exercises and mindfulness

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Eating well and getting enough fruit and vegetables in your diet

  • If you are in crisis there are places and people that can help in Sussex