The Green Ribbon is the symbol of Mental Health Week

Moving More for Our Mental Health


Written by Ben Yardley, Learning Coordinator


Mental Health Awareness Week takes place each year from the 13th to the 19th of May; this year, the theme is Moving More for Our Mental Health. The mental and physical health benefits of exercise are well-known, but many still find it challenging to exercise on a regular basis. Chief Medical Officers recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week, but many adults struggle to achieve this.

Perhaps surprisingly, a recent study by UK Active found that mental health was even more of a motivator for exercise than staying in shape; 54% said they worked out for their wellbeing, compared to only 49% who said getting fit was their top priority. Here are some of the many ways in which exercise can have a positive impact on both body and mind, and how you can encourage yourself to move for your mental health:


Exercise, wellbeing and togetherness

Exercise, particularly participation in a sports team or regular fitness classes with the same group, can help to alleviate loneliness and build a sense of community and belonging. Especially for those of us who are more introverted, the opportunity to connect with others who share the same interests can be highly beneficial for your mental health.



In the early 2010’s, behavioural policy researchers based in Harvard developed a framework known as EAST. Simply, if you want somebody to do something, you have to make it Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.

The science behind this simple mnemonic has been used by governments worldwide to incentivise better choices, including promoting healthier and more active lifestyles. For an individual, remembering EAST can be an effective “hack” for figuring out what is preventing you from staying active- and doing something about it!

EASY – if going to the gym or going for a run seems daunting, even a brisk walk is better than nothing. If you feel like you aren’t exercising as much as you would like to, taking some time to reflect on why may help you to overcome a mental block.

ATTRACTIVE – a fitness routine is much easier to stick to when it’s fun! Of course, this will be different for everyone, whether you enjoy a kickabout in the park, lifting weights, a dance class or even a light stroll. There’s no single right way to exercise – anything works!

SOCIAL – it’s all too tempting to lapse into bad routines, but joining a sports team or a workout class can be a way of using peer pressure for good! Even asking a friend to join you at the gym can be a way of turning your workout from a chore to a chance to spend time together.

TIMELY – once exercise forms part of your normal routine, it becomes almost second nature. A sense of routine and structure helps to provide additional motivation, and to set specific, measurable goals for your fitness journey.


Small movements make a big impact

Your fitness routine doesn’t have to be perfect! With so much information available online, and so many contradicting voices competing for attention, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to make informed decisions about nutrition, fitness or workout routines. However, even small activities like a quick walk or stretching at your desk can clear your mind and make you feel better.

The most important thing is to remember to enjoy yourself! If you find a way to make staying active fun, it becomes much easier to motivate yourself to make time for physical activity during your week, staying both healthy and happy.

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