High interest in role of physical activity in treating and preventing mental illness workshop

Exploring the benefits of physical activity in treating and preventing mental illness proved the most popular choice for over one-third of the 200 Get Physical attendees.

Led by Steve Bell (Oxford Health) and Keith Dale (Aylesbury Cricket Club), delegates first explored the therapeutic importance of physical health activities for young people with mental health issues. The role of developing networks and engaging with physical activity providers was highlighted, as well as how to engage with clients and outside organisations.

Ineke Wolsey (Anxiety & Depression Clinical Network Lead, Oxford AHSN), Charlie Wardle (Climb Your Mountain) and Jess Keeley (Health Trainer) then focused on the role of physical activity in supporting adults recovering from anxiety and/or depression. Delegates were asked for their views on the importance of physical activity in the self-management of Long Term Conditions and co-morbid anxiety and/or depression, and what could/should be done to support higher levels of physical activity.

Conclusions were:

  • Activities should be meaningful and have purpose eg taking patients to an animal sanctuary to walk the dogs or organising a memorial walk for a colleague through their favourite places.
  • Staff should set an example and participate in physical activity themselves
  • Training staff to speak to clients about physical activity is key, as is motivational interviewing to empower clients
  • Attendees were encouraged to take forward new connections made during the day

What did you think of the debate and its conclusions? Let us know by commenting below.