Get active for mental wellbeing
Being active is great for your physical health and fitness, and evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing.
We think that the mind and body are separate. But what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you. It means being able to get on with life in the way you want.
Evidence shows there's a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing.
Being active doesn't mean you need to spend hours in the gym, if that doesn't appeal to you.
Find physical activities you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life.
How exercise helps your mental wellbeing
Scientists think physical activity helps maintain and improve wellbeing in a number of ways.
Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows it can also help protect people against anxiety.
Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.
Some scientists think being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control, and the ability to rise to a challenge.
How you can get more active
If you want to get active, think about physical activity in the broadest sense.
It can help to read the physical activity guidelines for adults.
Adults aged 19 and over should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as fast walking or cycling, a week.
Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life.
There's lots of information and advice on the NHS website to help you get active:
More steps to mental wellbeing
Feel happier and enjoy life more with these 5 evidence-based steps for improving your mental wellbeing.
Or learn more about the other 4 steps for mental wellbeing:
Media review due: 10 March 2022
Page last reviewed: 26 September 2018
Next review due: 26 September 2021