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13 May 2024

Moving more for your mental health

How moving our bodies with team sports, sitting less or moving during daily routines can strengthen our physical and mental health. 

At work we can sometimes feel like our hearts are racing more often because we’re experiencing a stressful situation than because we’ve just spent some time moving our bodies and doing something active with our colleagues. 

But there’s evidence to suggest that moving more by taking part in team exercise like playing sports can help our mental health by boosting our sense of connection, building trust and giving us something else to focus on.

This Mental Health Awareness Week the Mental Health Foundation has set the theme as movement - moving for our mental health. Many studies have been done into the effects of different sorts of movement on our mental health but we’re not all in a position to be able to do all the different types of activities that have been shown to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. So, which types of movement work for you and what new ways of being active do you want to try to incorporate more of into your routine at work?

Sitting less

Research into self-reported sitting time and physical activity has shown the association between physical activity and mental well-being and productivity in office employees. Higher volumes of physical activity were associated with improved mental well-being, increased work productivity, and less time spent sitting at work. 

Conversely, higher sitting time during weekends was linked to lower mental well-being. Is there a way you can cut down on the amount of time you spend sitting during your working day? Could you break up the periods of time you sit in one go so that you stand up and do a stretch, look away from your computer screen and then sit back down for a short stretch of focussed work? Is standing or taking a walk during work calls an option for you? 

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines recommend each week adults reduce extended periods of sitting to support their physical health.

Playing a team sport

This Thriveworks article on 6 mental benefits of team sports brings to life how even if we’re not a sports pro or playing competitively, team sports can improve mood, confidence, focus and more. 

In research by Bupa 23% of people with a disability said that being part of a team helped them to feel more confident and Dr Naomi Humber, head of mental wellbeing at Bupa says: “Being part of a community or team with common interests or goals has a remarkable positive impact on both physical and mental health. Group participation and inclusion promotes a sense of belonging and social connection, creating a supportive environment that encourages healthy behaviours and motivates individuals to achieve their personal, professional and health goals.”

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines recommend each week adults do at least 150 minutes moderate intensity activity, 75 minutes’ vigorous activity, or a mixture of both, and playing sports like ping pong, bowling, basketball or rounders can all contribute to these targets. 


Mental Health UK research shows that exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It can increase the levels of happy chemicals serotonin and endorphins, and 56% of people reported that exercising regularly helped them to alleviate stress and prevent burnout in their lives.

Going to the gym, taking an online yoga class or riding your bike are some types of exercise that people reported enjoying and feeling the benefit of in their physical and mental health. 

Moving during the daily routine

Standing on tip toes or doing a few squats while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, getting off the bus at an earlier stop to walk a bit of the journey to work, or being a bit silly and dancing or skipping along the path while you go out to get your lunch can all be ways of incorporating more movement into your daily routine. 

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines recommend each week adults do strengthening activities on at least two days each week.


As we strive for excellence in our professional lives, let's not overlook the simple yet powerful benefits of taking a moment to stretch, walk, or engage in a team-building exercise which can not only break the monotony of a sedentary workday but also foster a culture of health and collaboration. By moving together, we can reduce stress, boost morale, and create a more cohesive and supportive work environment.

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