0 Items Currency:
Select Page

Move more for your mental health

April 30, 2024
Move more for your mental health
April 30, 2024

Everyone knows how important exercise is for weight management, weight loss and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and even dementia. But did you know it can also have a huge positive impact on your mental health?

‘It’s a scientific fact that regular physical activity and exercise can make us healthier and happier,’ says ZoomDoc GP Dr Clare Tong.

‘When we’re active, our body releases feel-good hormones that can help improve our mood and boost our energy,’ she adds.

According to NHS advice on the topic, other benefits of exercise for mental health include:

  • boosting our self-esteem and confidence
  • increasing motivation and focus
  • reducing tension, anxiety, stress and mental fatigue
  • helping to calm the mind, especially when dealing with difficult emotions like anger, frustration and sadness
  • reducing loneliness by offering new ways to get together with family and friends and meet new people.

So it’s no wonder that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (taking place 10-16th May) is ‘movement’. 

To help you move more and feel the benefits mentally as well as physically, here are some easy ways to fit exercise into your daily routine.

  • Get outdoors


Going out for a short walk, run or cycle might boost your mood and reduce or stop feelings of worry or anxiety.


Being active and getting fit doesn’t mean having to join or go to a fancy gym.

In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that being outdoors and seeing greenery can do wonders for your mood and stress levels.

Mind, the UK mental health charity, published a study that compared the results of exercise in the great outdoors with a walk inside an indoor shopping centre. 

71% of those who took part reported decreased levels of depression and said they felt less tense after taking a walk in a green environment. 90% said they noticed improved self-esteem. 

Although healthy adults should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate activity each week (roughly 20 minutes a day) there is evidence to show the health and wellbeing benefits from a 10-minute brisk walk every day.

‘Any amount of physical activity is good for you, so do not worry if you need to take it easy at first and gradually build up,’ says Dr Clare. ‘Something is better than nothing,’ she adds.

Put on your trainers or walking boots and find a walking route near you. Or you can find a local ramblers’ group to join here.

  • Count your steps


A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and will help your mental health.


Aiming for a certain step count on your smartphone, FitBit or watch every day will get you physically fit, but there’s also evidence to suggest it could be useful in preventing or managing depression.

But how many steps should we all be aiming for each day?

A small study found mental health benefits improved in those who reached 10,000 steps a day. And indeed, 10,000 steps is often considered a healthy target.

‘Your age, overall health and current fitness may mean starting with a lower step target but the main thing is to start moving and walking more to get those steps up,’ says Dr Clare.

Struggling to fit in more steps to your day? 

NHS advice says it’s all about making it become part of your daily routine -or something you enjoy. To increase your step count it recommends:

  • walking part of your journey to work
  • walking to the shops
  • using the stairs instead of the lift
  • leaving the car behind for short journeys
  • walking the kids to school
  • doing a regular walk with a friend
  • going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner (when you might just sit in front of the TV).


  • Sign up for something


Taking on a fundraising event is a fantastic way to support us and raise awareness of mental health.


A great way to boost your mood is by focusing on something. Signing up for a charity walk or run is a great way to get active and raise money for those who need it – a great way to lift your spirits.

Mental Health UK has a number of races and events you can sign up for including:

Find lots more inspiring events to join here

Struggling with your mental health?


It is important to know that support services are available for those struggling with mental health.


‘If your mental health is suffering, be sure to speak to a doctor – especially if it is affecting your daily routine and impacting your mood,’ says Dr Clare.

To talk to a GP about your symptoms today from your own home, download our ZoomDoc app to get an appointment at a time that suits you from just £35.

Book a doctor’s appointment here

Find local mental health services via the NHS. Alternatively, the following helplines are also worth contacting:

  • Samaritans – call 116 123 (free from any phone) or email jo@samaritans.org.
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – call 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or you can use the CALM webchat service.
  • Shout – for mental health support text SHOUT to 85258.

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.