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'Body issues' blocking mental health sufferers from getting active

Source: Health Club Management
By Jak Phillips
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Not feeling ‘gym body ready’ is serving as a significant barrier to taking part in sport and physical activity for people with mental health problems, according to a new report.

Research released today (13 July) by mental health charity Mind shows that 80 per cent of people with mental health problems who do not take part in sport are put off because they feel self-conscious about their bodies. This is despite the fact that 72 per cent of the 660 mental health sufferers surveyed say they enjoy taking part in sport, or exercising.

Furthermore, 55 per cent of people told the charity they are not ‘gym body ready’, saying they are not members of sports clubs, gyms or leisure centres, because they are embarrassed about their body shape or size.

Aside from body confidence issues – a subject that has been in the spotlight recently following the controversy around Protein World’s ‘beach body ready’ advertising campaign’ – concern over ability is also proving a significant barrier to participation for people with mental health problems. Around 80 per cent of those surveyed said they don’t feel confident in their sporting ability, while 70 per cent of people told Mind that they feel their mental health makes taking part too difficult.

“The research released by Mind shows that concerns over body confidence, ability and the fear of judgment hold people back from doing sport and exercise,” said Mike Diaper, Sport England’s executive director for community sport. 

The findings come as Mind launches a new programme to support 75,000 people with mental health problems to take up sport.
“We want more people with mental health problems to be able to enjoy exercising and look after their physical and mental health through sport,” said Mind CEO Paul Farmer. 


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