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The impact of exercise projects to promote mental wellbeing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)519-527
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

King's Authors


There is a well-established link between physical activity and psychological wellbeing, but less evidence on whether it can increase comfort in disclosure of mental health problems and help to reduce the perceived stigma of mental illness.

To investigate whether exercise projects, funded by the time to change anti-stigma programme to reduce mental health-related stigma and discrimination in England, can improve (1) wellbeing, (2) participation in physical activity, (3) readiness to disclose mental health problems or (4) perceived reduction in levels of stigma and discrimination.

Participants of exercise projects run in routine community settings by local Mind and Rethink Mental Illness associations completed the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) and questions addressing the other three outcomes at baseline and three month follow-up (N = 2663 baseline; N = 531 three month follow-up).

There was significant improvement at three months on the WEMWBS (t(386) = −7.64, p = <0.001, r = 0.36); readiness to disclose (χ2(1) = 10.86, p = 0.001) and participation in physical activity outside of the project (χ2(1) = 12.01, p = 0.001).

Community-based exercise projects have the potential to produce multifaceted positive outcomes for people with mental health problems; however, more methodologically robust studies are needed to adequately determine the effects of exercise.

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