Skip to main content
University of Bath

"Get up offa that thing"

Taking regular exercise is good for mental health. Take James Brown at his word and convert 'sitting time' to 'standing time'.

The mental health benefits of exercise

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of wellbeing. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. It is also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression and anxiety, it also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.

Even with Covid-19 restricting us, we want you to take up the challenge to improve your physical and mental health. Here are some of the benefits you may experience:

Sharper memory and thinking: The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand.

Higher self-esteem: Regular activity is an investment. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful.

Better sleep: Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy: Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energised.

Improved resilience: When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to other negative behaviours. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.

Ideas to keep active for On Your Feet Day and beyond

Stay in, work out: To help you keep active at home over the coming weeks Team Bath is putting together a ‘stay in, work out’ weekly timetable, bringing together the best fitness advice and free LIVE classes

Yoga: It is great to do a yoga routine before or after work, but you could also incorporate some stretches into the rest of your day. Stretch breaks are especially important for people whose jobs require them to sit at a desk in front of a computer for long hours. Just taking a few minutes to do Desk based Yoga stretches can relieve stress, increase productivity, and most importantly, make you feel better.

Tips, advice and guidance from Sport England on how to keep or get active in and around your home.

Many of us will be working with workstations that are not as ergonomically sound as we have in our offices. The Health and Safety Executive has produced a video giving tips on setting up your workstation for temporary home working. A key way of keeping aches and strains at bay is to take frequent screen breaks; this advice is even more important if working at a temporary workstation. Big Stretch is a free app that monitors time spent at your workstation, reminds you to take regular breaks and gives you a range of desk based exercises.

Every Mind Matters: This free toolkit provided by Public Health England provides advice, tips and support for people to manage their physical and metal health. It also provides advice and guidance on issues that might be affecting you during the lockdown.

Headspace, weathering the storm: Free access to some of the Headspace app. It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help you out, however you’re feeling.

The Mental Health Foundation: has produced a pocket guide How to look after your mental health using exercise to show the positive impact that physical activity can have on your own mental wellbeing, including some tips and suggestions to help you get started. They also have many more How to guides that you may find useful to support your mental health.

The British Heart Foundation: has a Health at Work – be active that provides suggestions and resources to get started with promoting physical activity at work.

Climbing mountains, a step at a time: Much Better Adventures have picked out twelve peaks as possible targets for your ascent. Find out how many stairs you need to climb to reach the top of famous mountains.

NHS Choices has a number of tools to help you Get active your way. This includes strength and flexibility videos, advice on taking up new sports, and advice on getting started with walking.

Paid-for things they've made FREE: Box sets, audiobooks, fitness classes, wellbeing apps and more