New research explores long-term impact of exercise on mental health

We teamed up with Sport In Mind on the Health Bus this week for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Berkshire Healthcare is partnering with charity Sport in Mind and Chichester University on a new research study which will examine the long-term impact of community physical activity programmes on people with mental health problems.

Published 16 May 2024.

The research is funded by Sport in Mind, the UK’s leading mental health sports charity which, in partnership with the NHS, delivers free physical activity including sport, walking, dance and gardening, to anyone struggling with their mental health, or experiencing loneliness and isolation.

Berkshire Healthcare clinicians currently refer some patients with mental health diagnoses to Sport in Mind and the aim of the research is to find out more about the long-term benefits to the patients who take part in these physical activity sessions.

Researchers will investigate how exercise can improve physical health, combat social isolation and empower people to move their lives forward in a positive direction. It will consider the role played by sport and exercise in the recovery process for those experiencing mental health illnesses, and the barriers and facilitators to participation from the perspective of both the participants and those delivering the programme.

Sport in Mind offer a range of group and individual exercise programmes to promote social interaction and increase levels of motivation and confidence to engage in sport and physical activity. The charity also offers an in-patient service which delivers programmes in hospital wards to help those with very severe mental health problems to be active and encourage them to engage in community sessions post discharge.

The study will provide a better understanding of the experiences of those who take part in the exercise programmes and how it has impacted on their mental health. The findings from the research will be used directly to improve the services of Sport in Mind.

Shani McCoy, Research Governance Officer at Berkshire Healthcare, said:

“We are so pleased to be supporting Sport in Mind and collaborating with them on this project. We hope the findings will help to provide a robust evidence base for the impact that the Sport in Mind Programme has on Mental Health”.

Sport in Mind co-Founder Kayleigh Harris said:

“Sport in Mind are delighted to be working in collaboration with Berkshire Healthcare and Chichester University to develop research about the longitudinal impact of sport on mental health. We see this as a great opportunity to explore the impact of Sport in Mind’s ground breaking programmes and help more people active in a safe and supportive environment”.

Sreedevi Laxman, PhD Researcher at Chichester University and facilitator for Sport In Mind said:

“I joined Sport in Mind as a Community Activator in 2021, working with individuals with severe mental illnesses and used the tool of sport and physical activity in their recovery journey. Now as a PhD researcher, I have this wonderful opportunity to tell stories of people who have experienced the benefits of physical activity through Sport in Mind’s sessions and how it has helped them in their recovery journey. I’m very excited to work with Sport in Mind, the University of Chichester and Berkshire Healthcare to bring to life the stories and journeys of people who deliver and access Sport in Mind’s sessions”.

Find out more

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Sport in Mind offer a range of physical activities.