Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington and Shadow Sports Minister, is supporting a new campaign from Nuffield Health to increase awareness and understanding of the link between positive physical and mental health.
The campaign comes at a time where the UK is facing unprecedented pressures on its collective mental health, with Google data analysis showing that searches for ‘mental health support’ are 52% higher this year than in 2019.
Research from Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index has shown that 34% of people said their emotional or mental health had got worse in the last year, while 32% said their physical health had got worse. Worryingly, these numbers were higher for adults in the North West, with 36% saying their physical health was worse, and 40% saying their emotional or mental health had got worse in the last year.
According to the research, adults in the North West are exercising an average of 71 minutes of moderate exercise a week. While this is higher than the national average of 64 minutes each week, it is still less than half the NHS recommended amount.
According to the research, only one in three (36%) are aware that the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, such as brisk walking, dancing or riding a bike. 60% of adults say a lack of motivation is a barrier to exercising and a third (32%) don’t know how to get started.
Two-time Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes has partnered with Nuffield Health to tackle to motivate and inspire the nation to move more for both body and mind. Jeff recently met with Dame Kelly and representatives from Nuffield Health to discuss the charity’s #Find5 campaign to encourage people to take a small amount of time each day to do something for both their physical and mental health and to try a new exercise or sport.
Jeff Smith said: “It’s been a really tough couple of years, with the impact of Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis taking a toll on people’s mental health as well as hitting physical activity rates.
“Although rising costs create additional barriers to people getting active, it’s vital that we support people to begin or keep up exercise in whatever way they can. This is hugely important for mental wellbeing as well as overall physical health.”
Dame Kelly Holmes, two-time Olympic champion and Nuffield Health Ambassador, said: “I’ve been talking about my mental health for many years, however, it’s only recently that I’ve truly understood the fundamental link between physical and mental health.
It’s so important we recognise the role exercise can play, not only in improving our wellbeing but to also tackle the mental health crisis the country is facing now. Just five additional minutes of movement can help you to focus and the ability to feel good about something every single day. Don’t do it for anyone else, do it for you.”
Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said: “Our Healthier Nation Index data has shown that the UK is struggling to get active, but people are also unaware of just how beneficial it can be for both physical and mental health.
“Now, more than ever, we need to help people better understand the benefits of exercise for both body and mind, as well as provide the tools to try new activities and build healthy habits for life.”
The charity has launched a series of five-minute guides to provide information on how to get started and suggestions on easy ways of trying new activities. More information can be found at https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/healthiernation.