A new survey of 8000 UK adults has highlighted the continuing impacts of the pandemic on wellbeing, with a third of respondents (34%) reporting their mental health has gotten worse in the last year, and one in nine (11%) saying it has got significantly worse.
Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index found that over a third of adults (37%) are now more concerned about their mental health as a result of Covid-19, rising to 40% who are more concerned about their physical health.
Despite this, 42% have spent no time looking after their mental health and 15% admit to having done no exercise at all in the last year. 85% are not meeting the NHS recommended 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, with the average Brit completing just 40 minutes a week.
Analysis of the survey has highlighted the benefits of doing just a small amount of exercise, with just 15 minutes of exercise a week leading to a boost in both mental and physical health. In response to the findings Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, has launched the “Find Time For Your Mind” campaign.
The campaign encourages people to #find5 and spend just five extra minutes a day exercising or focusing on their mental wellbeing.
This additional time would boost the 40 minutes average in the survey to help meet the NHS guideline of 75 minutes a week, putting people on a pathway to mental and physical wellbeing.
The Index, which is in its second year, also found that:
- Over a quarter (27%) of UK adults are motivated to exercise as it helps their mental health, more than those who are motivated by the fact it helps their physical health (21%) or those that enjoy exercise and like to keep fit (19%).
- 60% say a lack of motivation is a barrier to exercising and a third (32%) don’t know how to get started.
- This rises to 48% of 16-24-year-olds, and 40% of women also cited embarrassment is a barrier to exercise, compared with 29% of men.
The charity is launching a series of free-to-access guidance to help overcome these barriers, providing people with easy ways to start exercising and find time for physical and mental health.
Commenting on the findings, Nigel Owens, former international rugby union referee and Mental Wellbeing Ambassador for the Healthier Nation Index said: ‘’Knowing where, how and why to start exercising can be overwhelming, however, I know through my own experiences that being active even in the smallest way is so important for both mental and physical health, and I’m proud to be championing this important campaign.
“We’re urging everyone to #find5 and do whatever workout feels good for them – it could even include carrying heavy shopping from the supermarket or dancing around your kitchen.”
Gosia Bowling, Emotional Wellbeing Lead at Nuffield Health, added: “The findings from this year’s Healthier Nation Index are a stark warning that as an industry and society we need to boost our activity levels in order to counteract the mental and physical health crisis we are facing after two years of the pandemic.
“Five minutes a day will put people on a pathway back to good health, overcoming the initial barrier of getting started and helping develop better habits.
Taking a proactive and connected approach to our emotional and physical wellbeing is vital as we look to recover and build a healthier nation.”
For more information can be found at https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/healthiernation.
The Find 5 campaign is designed to help people proactively look after their wellbeing and kick-start the development of healthy habits. If you need help for a mental health crisis or emergency, you should get immediate expert advice and assessment.