Benefits of movement for mental health | Blog posts

  1. Text Size:
  2. Contrast:

Working together, making a difference. Graphic text.

MY Blogs

four circles with star heart, people and arrow icons inside

Latest blogs from colleagues and patients across the Trust.

Benefits of movement for mental health

Find your moments for movement

We’re proud to support the Mental Health Foundation this Mental Health Awareness Week – 13 to 19 May.

In our latest blog, Dr Sophie Cammidge, Senior Clinical Psychologist at MYTT shares some tips and tricks on moving more for mental health.


Link between movement and mental health

We all know that exercise releases ‘feel good’ hormones, which naturally have a beneficial impact on our mood and psychological wellbeing. However, there are lots of other benefits to moving and exercise including increased motivation and focus. The more we do, the more we want to do, and the better we feel about ourselves in terms of self esteem and confidence as a result. Exercise can also contribute towards reducing stress, tension and anxiety, as well as being an opportunity to practice mindfulness and to simply ‘be’ in the present moment. Developing the ability to be present or mindful is known to enhance our psychological wellbeing through things such as enhanced focus and engagement in what we are doing and with those around us.

Exercise can also facilitate connection with others and the development and/or strengthening of relationships and social circles. Exercise can be done alone but also with friends, family members, or with other members of the community who have similar interests. Connection and relationships are also extremely important in maintaining and enhancing our psychological wellbeing.


Potential barriers and ways to overcome them 

Let’s face it, there are a number of natural potential ‘barriers’ to engaging in regular exercise and movement. However, given the importance of exercise for our overall wellbeing, it’s important to try and consider ways we may overcome these barriers. Below is a list of a few potential barriers that might come up and how they may be overcome:

1.       Finances: In the cost of living crisis, ‘luxuries’ such as gym memberships may be the first outgoing to go, as people prioritise paying other bills. However, there are a number of ways to exercise that don’t cost any money. There are lots of exercise classes on YouTube that you can do at home, and ways to exercise outdoors for free such as in the garden, running, and many parks now have outdoor gyms for the public to use.

2.       Lack of motivation: When we’re struggling with motivation to do something, it can be really helpful to tune in to our values, and remind ourselves why we’re trying to stay active. For example, we might have values around self care, personal growth or building connections. On the days when we’re struggling with motivation, it can be helpful to remind ourselves why we are exercising.

3.       Time pressures: Life involves a LOT of juggling. Work, household chores, children, life admin, maintaining relationships, the list of things to do is endless, and as a result it’s easy for exercise to be de-prioritised. Naturally, many of us won’t have time to go to the gym for an hour a few times a week, so it’s important to find ways to exercise that are more sustainable. It can be more realistic for some people to try and do 20 minutes each day that fit a little better in to their natural lifestyle/routine. This might include taking a walk on your lunch break, doing a 20 minute HIIT workout at home, or finding opportunities to walk when you might usually drive.

4.       Lack of enjoyment: Let’s face it, not everyone enjoys what we usually think of as ‘exercise’, or some people may feel self conscious. The gym isn’t for everyone. Exercise classes aren’t for everyone. Running isn’t for everyone. As a result it’s really important to try and find a way to exercise that feels enjoyable, so that you’re more likely to stick at it.

5.       Self-consciousness: Some people may feel self-conscious when exercising, for a variety of reasons. It may be that it feels helpful to start out by exercising in private, such as following YouTube videos at home, whilst you build up your confidence to exercise with others or outdoors.

6.       Physical health difficulties: Individuals with disabilities or long-term chronic health conditions may understandably find it more tricky to engage in certain types of exercise. However, there are so many types of exercise to chose from, so it may help to experiment with different types to find one that works for you. Pacing is often important, so it may feel helpful to talk to your healthcare provider about the best kind, and amount of, exercise that will benefit you. 


Different types of movement 

·       Gym classes: gym classes can work really well for people who find it helpful to have an instructor to guide them through exercise, or who like exercising in a group. Local council gyms offer a range of different classes to suit all needs and abilities. 

·       Running and cycling: these exercises are really flexible in that they can be done alone or with others (e.g. cycling and running clubs), in the gym or outside. There are lots of couch to 5k programmes out there for people just getting started.

·       Pilates and yoga: these are particularly great exercises for those who would like to build strength and flexibility, and for those who don’t feel they have the confidence to attend high intensity fitness classes. Council gyms tend to offer classes but there’s also lots of guided stuff available on YouTube so that they can be practiced at home. They are also great ways to practice mindfulness.

·       Day to day activities: For those who really struggle with time or who don’t enjoy other exercise, we can adjust our usual day to day tasks so that we move a little more as part of them. If you enjoy gardening you might walk a few extra laps of the garden, when cleaning you might turn your music up and dance around the house as part of it, or you may do a little extra running around with your children at the park! 

In summary, it’s really important for our psychological wellbeing to stay active. It can be helpful to reflect and tune in to why you would like to do it, and to try and stay connected to these reasons and find something you enjoy in order to stay motivated and engaged and work towards leading a fulfilled and active lifestyle.  


Useful websites

More information can be found at:

Exercise - NHS (


Our use of cookies
We use necessary Essential Cookies to make our site work. Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

We also collect Analytics Cookies which help us to make improvements by measuring how you use the site through Google Analytics. These do not directly identify anyone will be set only if you click "Accept cookies". Let us know if this is OK. We’ll use a cookie to save your choice.
You can read more about our cookie policy before you choose.

Please choose a setting: