Physical activity is a recognized health topic worldwide. Individuals and health professionals are increasingly aware of its benefits and the implications of inactivity. Beyond the Physical Benefits, Research Shows Physical Activity Has Positive Effects on the Body personal mental health. People with mental illness have higher rates of disability and mortality , and further research is needed in this area.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as; “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease”. 
Specifically for mental disorders, which are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as; “a broad range of problems with distinct symptoms”. 
NICE (National Institute and Care Excellence) guidelines suggest that common mental health conditions range from depression to anxiety. These conditions are recognized as ‘common’ because they affect more people than any other mental illness.
- 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental illness in any given year.
- Mental health problems relate to a significant global economic burden with an estimated cost of £1.6 billion
- Half of all mental health problems begin before the age of
- In England women present a higher prevalence of depression than men (19.7% compared to 12.5%).
- Only about 50% of people diagnosed with mental illness receive professional help.
- In the united states, over 50% of people who are diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives each year, 1 in 5 develop a mental illness.
- 1 in 25 people in the US. develop severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and sedentary lifestyles.
- For children, 1 in 5 develops a mental illness at some point in their lives experiences a serious mental illness.
- According to the national institute of mental health
Benefits of Physical Activity
Many people find physical activity fun, boosts confidence and helps regain a sense of control. Physical activity can also encourage social interaction by being around like-minded people.  It can help bring about social support, which in turn can improve Personal confidence and sense of accomplishment 
Research shows that physical activity can have a positive impact on an individual’s overall mood.  Levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which affects mood, have been shown to increase following exercise. This increase in serotonin is thought to help prevent the development of Some physical or mental impairment. 
Physical activity has been shown to increase self-esteem and acceptance levels. Research shows that patients should participate in less stressful and less competitive activities to help improve their mental health. 
Evidence suggests that exercise is effective in improving depressive symptoms. Aerobic exercise resistance and strength training have been found useful in improving personal condition. Exercise is reported to have effects in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Significant improvements are recognized in the clinical setting including those with severe mental illness.
Exercise participants benefit from improved cardiovascular and muscle tone. Maintaining bone strength and supporting functional health. It can reduce an individuals risk of many conditions such as high blood pressure chronic heart disease stroke diabetes breast/colon cancer and depression.
Mechanism of effect
There are several theories that attempt to identify the mechanism by which physical activity affects mental health. These can be seen as psychological or physical. The evaluation of the hypotheses was limited and the real effect is thought to be although aggregate psychological and physiological mechanisms.
Mindfulness is thought to be induced by individuals withdrawing and turning away from stressful stimuli which in turn have the enhanced effects associated with physical activity.
Many people find exercise difficult. By engaging in an exercise-related routine, an individual’s mood and self-confidence will improve.
This is thought to be where exercise increases neurotransmission in the brain. Research is limited in this area.
Exercise releases opioids. Exercise positively affects common symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing beta endorphins post-exercise. Endorphins are associated with a positive mood and a greater sense of overall well-being.
Thermogenesis is about making the body. Exercise raises body temperature. Exercise is thought to be more relaxing and moody.
Barriers to Physical Activity
Even though many people are aware of the benefits of physical activity and how it can improve quality of life they still face barriers that prevent them from doing it. Barriers can be seen as physical psychological or social environment.
PhysicalMental and economicSocioeconomicPhysical illnessFatigue/exhaustionDistressDepressionLack of mental motivationLow confidenceLow confidenceHigh costs lack of access to places without access to social supportLack of information/knowledgePoor environmentHigh crime rates
We all set up barriers to exercise even when we know the potential benefits. Those with mental illness are no different but there are other factors that can prevent an individual from participating in physical activity.
- Physical image – Especially related to excess body weight. Susceptibility to weight gain may not be due to inactivity but may be due to substance use.
- Fatigue – Evidence has shown that fatigue and tiredness can be caused by substance use.
- Circumstances – People worry that they will be recognized by others in their neighborhood or community because of their mental disorder and fear of stigma. 
Those with common mental health disorders have been found to have symptoms that reduce their likelihood of being physically active.  Drug side effects can also be a barrier to physical activity. Individuals can take a number of different medications to treat their mental health conditions; Antidepressants Anxiety Stimulants Antipsychotics and Mood Stabilizers.
Possible side effects associated with the drug are: nausea and vomiting weight gain drowsiness loss of appetite headache and blurred vision.  Both typical and atypical drugs have been identified to affect certain neurotransmitters within the brain, which can lead to increased individual Weight  Determining the correct drug for an individual can sometimes be a lengthy process, especially when trying to determine dosage. In some cases, individuals reported periods of sedation, which increased the time of physical inactivity. 
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals change the way they think and behave. It has been shown to have positive effects on various mental health disorders . The approach is divided into 5 areas; Situational Thought Emotional Body Feeling and Action This type of therapy can stop the negative loop many people may find themselves in and allow them to better manage their condition. 
Many people with depression find that their behavior is associated with prolonged inactivity, which in turn lowers mood. CBT therapy can help change behavior and increase physical activity levels by doing things that may bring you pleasure and feelings Achievements
Implementing public health interventions to try to address inactivity can be done in a variety of ways, such as:
Information provided directly to individuals through the logo. These are usually located in the stairwell or next to the elevator.  These signs can be motivating, educational and inspirational. 
The community engages in the exercise through media campaigns and other strategies. Support groups and risk factor screening are used in community projects. 
Mass media campaigns
Movement uses the media television broadcast cinema and the internet to encourage physical activity. 
Classroom-based health education
Interventions in educational settings such as school university or work. These classes attempt to educate individuals about the importance of physical activity and the effects of inactivity. 
Many different tools/interventions have been developed to help address physical inactivity.
Scot-PASQ (Scottish Physical Activity Screening Questions)
Identify what individuals think about physical activity and what they are currently doing. To determine whether brief recommendations or interventions were implemented if individuals demonstrated acceptance of increased physical activity. Those Who Are Not Ready Get Informed Through Physical Activity Leaflet
National Physical Activity Pathway
After Scot-PASQ screening, health professionals can use this pathway to provide advice or implement interventions to help encourage inactive individuals to increase the level of physical activity they achieve. 
Lester Positive Cardiometabolic Health Resources
The framework applies to people with psychiatric disorders who are taking antipsychotic medications, and it helps to identify any risk these people may have for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 
Walking Football groups
These groups see people 50 and older attending soccer games. The walking format of the game allows people with limited mobility to participate. Improve physical and mental health. 
Goals here include improving an individual’s self-esteem, working within the community helps develop social inclusion, and ensuring recreational facilities are well equipped to support people with mental disorders. 
The Scottish Mental Health Association is working to educate leaders to be more aware of mental health and able to communicate how exercise can improve an individual’s mental health. 
A scheme involving forestry in Scotland. Individuals who use mental health services can enroll in a 12-week program that encourages physical activity. Individuals learn conservation work and bush techniques. Photography and other skills are also 
- ↑ World Health Organisation, 2013. Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 [online]. World Health Organisation. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ World Health Organisation, 2016. Health Topic – Mental Health [online]. World fckLRHealth Organisation. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ World Health Organisation, 2016. Health Topic – Mental Disorders [online]. World Health Organisation. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.who.int/topics/mental_disorders/en/
- ↑ NICE, 2011. Common mental health problems: identification and pathways to care [online]. National Institute of Health for Care and Excellence. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ Mental Health Foundation, 2015. Fundamental Facts about Mental Health [online]. Mental Health Foundation. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from:
- ↑ McManus, S. et al., 2009. Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007; Household survey [online]. National Centre for Social Research. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ World Health Organisation, 2016. WHO Regional Committee for Europe 63rd session [online]. World Health Organisation. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ Royal College of Psychiatry, 2012. Physical Activity and Mental Health [online]. Royal College of Psychiatrists. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ Jump up to:9.0 9.1 Fox KR. The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public health nutrition. 1999 Mar;2(3a):411-8.
- ↑ Penedo FJ, Dahn JR. Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2005 Mar 1;18(2):189-93.
- ↑ Young SN. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN. 2007 Nov;32(6):394.
- ↑ Shamus E, Cohen G. Depressed, Low Self-Esteem: What Can Exercise Do For You?. Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2009;7(2):7.
- ↑ Blumenthal JA, Smith PJ, Hoffman BM. Is exercise a viable treatment for depression?. ACSM’s health & fitness journal. 2012 Jul;16(4):14.
- ↑ Wang PW, Lin HC, Su CY, Chen MD, Lin KC, Ko CH, Yen CF. Effect of aerobic exercise on improving symptoms of individuals with schizophrenia: a single blinded randomized control study. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018 May 15;9:167.
- ↑ Blackdog Institute, 2012. Exercise and Depression [online]. Blackdog Institute. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from:
- ↑ Rebar AL, Stanton R, Geard D, Short C, Duncan MJ, Vandelanotte C. A meta-meta-analysis of the effect of physical activity on depression and anxiety in non-clinical adult populations. Health psychology review. 2015 Aug 7;9(3):366-78.
- ↑ World Health Organisation, 2016. Media Centre – Physical Activity [online]. World Health Organisation. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/
- ↑ Jump up to:18.0 18.1 Morgan WP. Affective beneficence of vigorous physical activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1985 Feb.
- ↑ Guszkowska M. Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood. Psychiatria polska. 2004 Jul 1;38(4):611-20.
- ↑ Jump up to:20.0 20.1 Craft LL, Perna FM. The benefits of exercise for the clinically depressed. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104.
- ↑ Peluso, M. A. M. & Guerra De Andrade, L. H. S. 2005. Physical Activity and Mental Health: the association between exercise and mood. Clinics [online]. 60(1), pp. 61-70. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/clin/v60n1/23108.pdf
- ↑ Firth J, Rosenbaum S, Stubbs B, Gorczynski P, Yung AR, Vancampfort D. Motivating factors and barriers towards exercise in severe mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological medicine. 2016 Oct;46(14):2869-81.
- ↑ Manaf H. Barriers to participation in physical activity and exercise among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Singapore Med J. 2013;54(10):581-6.
- ↑ Schutzer KA, Graves BS. Barriers and motivations to exercise in older adults. Preventive medicine. 2004 Nov 1;39(5):1056-61.
- ↑ Jump up to:25.0 25.1 National Institute of Mental Health, 2016. Mental Health Medications [online]. National Institute of Mental Health. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml
- ↑ Jump up to:26.0 26.1 26.2 Shor R, Shalev A. Barriers to involvement in physical activities of persons with mental illness. Health promotion international. 2016 Mar 1;31(1):116-23.
- ↑ McDevitt J, Snyder M, Miller A, Wilbur J. Perceptions of barriers and benefits to physical activity among outpatients in psychiatric rehabilitation. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 2006 Mar;38(1):50-5.
- ↑ Harvey SB, Hotopf M, Øverland S, Mykletun A. Physical activity and common mental disorders. The British journal of psychiatry. 2010 Nov;197(5):357-64.
- ↑ Robson, D. & Gray, R. 2007. Serious Mental Illness and physical health problems: A discussion paper, International Journal of Nursing Studies [online]. 44, pp. 457-466. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/physical_health_paper-1%20copya.pdf
- ↑ Hofmann SG, Asnaani A, Vonk IJ, Sawyer AT, Fang A. The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognit Ther Res. 2012;36(5):427-440.
- ↑ Royal College of Psychiatry, 2013. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [online]. Royal College of Psychiatrists. [viewed 27 August 2016].
- ↑ Mental Health Foundation, no date. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [online]. Mental Health Foundation. [viewed 27 August 2016].
- ↑ Martinsen EW. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Nordic journal of psychiatry. 2008 Jan 1;62(sup47):25-9.Available from:
- ↑ Fordham B, Sugavanam T, Hopewell S, Hemming K, Howick J, Kirtley S, das Nair R, Hamer-Hunt J, Lamb SE. Effectiveness of cognitive–behavioural therapy: a protocol for an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. BMJ open. 2018 Dec 1;8(12).
- ↑ Jump up to:35.0 35.1 35.2 Kahn EB, Ramsey LT, Brownson RC, Heath GW, Howze EH, Powell KE, Stone EJ, Rajab MW, Corso P. The effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity: a systematic review. American journal of preventive medicine. 2002 May 1;22(4):73-107.
- ↑ CDC, 2015. Motivational Signs [online]. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ CDC, 2011. Strategies to Prevent Obesity and other Chronic Diseases – The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community [online]. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. [viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ Saucedo-Araujo RG, Chillón P, Pérez-López IJ, Barranco-Ruiz Y. School-Based Interventions for Promoting Physical Activity Using Games and Gamification: A Systematic Review Protocol. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 Jan;17(14):5186.
- ↑ Physical Activity and Health Alliance, 2012. Scottish Physical Activity Screening Question (Scot-PASQ)[viewed 24 August 2016].
- ↑ NHS Health Scotland, 2012. NHS Physical Activity Pathway: Practitioner Guidance [online]. NHS Health Scotland. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from: http://www.healthscotland.com/uploads/documents/20387-PractitionerGuide.pdf
- ↑ RCPSYCH, 2014. NAS Resources [online]. Royal College of Psychiatrists. [viewed 24 August 2016]. Available from:
- ↑ Paths for All, no date. Walking football [online]. Paths for All. [viewed 27 August 2016].
- ↑ Jump up to:43.0 43.1 SAMH, no date. Get Active [online]. Scottish Association for Mental Health. [viewed 27 August 2016].
- ↑ Foresty Commission Scotland, no date. Branching Out [online]. Forestry Commission Scotland. [viewed 27 August 2016].