Mental Health Awareness Week: Move more to boost mental health

Mental Health / Get Fit

This Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Sport NI have teamed up to encourage everyone to move more for their mental health and wellbeing.

Our physical health can have a big impact on how we feel and what we do with our body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing.

Fiona Teague, Regional Lead for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing at the PHA, said: “The benefits of getting active for your mental and emotional wellbeing cannot be overstated.

“That’s why we are so keen for people to get moving more this Mental Health Awareness Week. Use this week to inspire you, to spur you in to action. It doesn’t have to be a big effort or change, build some healthy choices into your daily routine, like walking to the shops or incorporating it in to your journey to work or school.

“Or take time out of your day and go for a walk with a friend, your family or a colleague and make it a regular thing. That small simple first step can help give your emotional wellbeing a boost and doing it with others has the added bonus of helping you build better connections with those around us.

“We know that good relationships with our friends, families and communities are important for our overall wellbeing and simply taking at least 30 minutes each day and going for a walk is a great way to strengthen those connections.”

Evidence shows us that the benefits of regular physical activity include helping to lower the risk of:

  • depression;
  • dementia;
  • type 2 diabetes;
  • colon and breast cancers;
  • breast cancer;
  • osteoarthritis and hip fractures;
  • coronary heart disease and stroke.

For good physical and mental health, we should aim to be physically active every day. Any amount of physical activity is better than doing none at all.  And if you are already physically active, increasing the amount you do can have additional benefit your health.

Richard Archibald, Interim CEO at Sport NI, said: “At Sport NI we are passionate about the power of sport to change lives. Being active is not only great for our physical health and fitness but also has enormous benefits to our mental health.

“This Mental Health Awareness Week we are encouraging everyone to try and move a bit more. This can be anything from taking the stairs instead of the lift, going for a walk with friends or family, getting back into a sport you used to enjoy, or trying your hand at a new one. Doing even a small amount of physical activity can have a really positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing so why not give it a go this week!”

Being active forms part of the Take 5 Steps to Mental Health and Wellbeing which are: Give, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Connect and Be Active.

Fiona Teague continued: “The Take 5 Steps provide us with important tools to help us in our wellbeing journey. You can incorporate some together, so while you are being active, doing it with other people can help you connect. While you are out for a walk, make time to take notice your surroundings, whether it’s the nature in a park or the buildings around you that you’ve never taken time to look at before.

“Moving more can also mean doing something else that you enjoy. You can dance, do some gardening, swimming or cycling. Do something that’s going to help give your mental health a boost this Mental Health Awareness Week, encourage others to do the same, and keep it up.”

Learn more about the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing in the attached leaflet.

PDF icon Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing.pdf

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