The benefits of physical activity on mental health in the workplace
The Government's Department of Health advises that one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development study found that, for the first time, stress is the major cause of long-term absence in manual and non-manual workers.
Promoting positive mental health in the workplace can therefore be hugely beneficial. Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work.
Additionally, taking steps to better support the mental health of staff can help to reduce the severity, duration and quantity of mental ill health in the workplace.
The mental health benefits of physical activity
Everyone knows that regular exercise is great for your physical health and fitness, but evidence also shows that being physically active is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental wellbeing. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on mood, depression, anxiety and more.
Scientists believe that physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety.
Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.
Scientists believe that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
Promoting physical activity in the school workplace
Workplace physical activity programmes that foster a happier, healthier and more motivated team, have a positive impact on productivity, increase work attendance, reduce job stress and pave the way for greater employee retention and engagement.
School Virtuathon® is designed to have a positive impact on community cohesion, inspire staff and parents to become more physically active, live healthier lifestyles and raise vital funds for your school.
It includes an eight-week physical activity, lifestyle and wellbeing education programme for staff, parents and your wider community that cumulates in a 'virtual' event with a Virtuathon medal as reward. It's 'virtual' so that there's no organisation involved and participants complete their 5K or 10K at any location – in the local park or on a treadmill, individually or with friends – and crucially they can walk, jog or run at their own pace, so it’s ideal for beginners.
Programmes weave together related education from multiple sources such as physical activity, nutrition, healthy eating, mindset, meditation, yoga and more, to encourage positive habits long after your School Virtuathon has been completed. School staff are guided along a journey to help them understand the impact of diet, stress, mindset and physical activity on their health to encourage positive lifestyle choices, both in and out of school.
Delivering your own School Virtuathon on a date of your choice is easy – setup and administration is FREE and everything is provided so as not to impact on your time or resources.
Inspire a healthier, happier and motivated community by delivering your own School Virtuathon
Acknowledgements, resources and further reading
Get active for mental wellbeing - Stress, anxiety and depression
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Physical Activity and Mental Health
Physical activity, sport and exercise
Mental Health Foundation
How to look after your mental health using exercise
Mental health in the workplace