What Is The Impact Of Physical Activity On Mental Health?

Have you ever noticed how a simple walk outside or a game of catch can lift your spirits? Well, you’re onto something big, as it has been proven time and time again that engaging in physical activity is a key element to positive mental health! In this blog, we’ll explore how moving your body can do wonders for your mind, the impact that physical activity can have on your mental health, and some activity options to get you up and moving.

Effect of Physical Activity on Stress

Common signs of stress*, anxiety* and depression* can have a serious impact on our daily lives, stopping us from being the best versions of ourselves. These include:

  • Sleep problems or feeling tired, even after getting good sleep.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Trouble focusing.
  • Sweating.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Feeling sad or worried a lot, even all the time.
  • Getting easily annoyed, upset, or restless.

However, exercise has been medically proven to reduce anxiety and depression* and offer some release to those suffering from the above.  Regular exercise boosts mood by increasing blood circulation to the brain and releasing “happy hormones” like endorphins and monoamines.

However, we strongly recommend that if you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress you should seek advice from a medical professional first to ensure that you receive the best course of treatment for you as an individual. 

Ways To Improve Your Mental Health With Physical Activity

Explore various physical activities until you find what suits your interests and preferences. Experiment with different options, regularly try new activities and even combine them to create a routine you eagerly anticipate each week.

Yoga for mental health

If you’re unsure where to begin, we have listed below five activities that can help boost your mental health.


With its focus on breathing practises and meditation, which both help to soothe and centre the mind, it’s not surprising that yoga offers mental benefits like lower anxiety and reduced depression. But what might catch you off guard is that it can enhance your brain’s functioning.

Like how lifting weights makes your muscles stronger and bigger, practising yoga helps you practice mindfulness. It’s like giving your brain a workout!


Walking might appear to be a milder choice for maintaining your health, but its beauty lies in its relatively gentle impact on your body and the opportunity to bask in the fresh outdoors. Taking a stroll can work wonders in reducing stress and aiding mental well-being. Surprisingly, even just a 15-minute walk holds the potential to clear your mind.

It’s crucial to recognise that you don’t need to commit a full hour or embark on a demanding hike to reap the rewards for your health. You can even break your walk into smaller, more manageable segments spread throughout the day if that suits your routine better. Plus, you can adapt the intensity of your walks to suit your fitness level and slowly increase the length, speed or incline as your body becomes use to regular walking.


Not only is dancing a great form of cardiovascular exercise that can boost your mental well-being, but it is also a fantastic way of expressing yourself.

dancing for mental health

You don’t have to attend an adult dance class to dance either, you can dance at home to your favourite songs or join a Zumba class.

HIIT Training

If you enjoy something high intensity that requires minimal time, HIIT training or workouts can be a fantastic option. Both in the gym and in a class, these types of workouts provide a whole host of mental and physical benefits to help boost wellness.

Science shows that moving your body can make you feel happy by increasing serotonin, a “happy hormone.” HIIT exercise can bring quick bursts of happiness.

Team and social sports

If thinking about ‘team sports’ brings back memories of muddy school fields, shared showers, sports injuries, and strict PE teachers, you’re not the only one.

team sports for mental health

However, taking part in team sports not only makes you fitter (people who exercise in groups do almost twice as much activity as those who exercise alone), but it’s also good for your emotional well-being.

‘Team’ sports don’t have to just mean traditional team sports such as football, and netball etc, you can reap the same mental benefits of team sports without playing on an actual team but rather enjoying your sport or activity with others.

Activities such as:

  • Judo, jujitsu, karate and other martial arts.
  • Racket sports like badminton, tennis, or table tennis
  • Even rollerblading!

It can be anything you do with others.

Regular Physical Activity with Active Lifestyle Centres

If you are looking to join a leisure centre and gym in South Gloucestershire, Active Lifestyle Centres can give you the chance to enjoy various activities and places that can help improve your mental health.

Our centres have facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, and fitness studios and our members can use all of them. We also offer many different classes and clubs that involve the activities we talked about in this blog, and even more! So, if you’re looking to boost your mental well-being, our membership is a great choice.


*1- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/#i1523-5998-8-2-106-b3

*2- https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/anxiety

*3- https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/depression

*4- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/#i1523-5998-8-2-106-b3

*5- https://europepmc.org/article/med/15518309