The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is mental health for all. We have asked our partners and followers how physical activity and movement has benefitted their mental health.

There’s plenty of evidence that taking part in physical activity can have a profound and positive impact on mental wellbeing. Being physically active can improve mood, decrease the chance of depression and anxiety and lead to a better and more balanced lifestyle. Almost two thirds of adults consider exercise to be more important than ever during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. So, what does it mean to us here in Essex?

Angelique, instructor at Dance and Fitness said: “Dancing brings us joy and it is a great way of relieving stress and feeling happy. I started dancing again after having two children and I find that the music lifts me and helps me cope with stressful days.”

We also spoke to Jamie King, who explains how physical activity has helped pull her through a difficult time in her life: “I’m one of those people who gets very anxious about new things and the thought of going to a fitness class on my own was making me feel so nervous, so I got 4 of my friends to join me!

Getting outside, being active and being around positive people has massively impacted my mood, my anxiety and my outlook on life for the better. The last 2 years have been a bit of a bumpy ride for me and my beautiful daughter. Starting bootcamp has helped me find something that I enjoy and want to do. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and along with the support from my friends and my husband it has encouraged me to keep going. My smile is now genuine, my smile is real and my smile is happiness.”

Billy Ray Mansell, also got in touch to tell us how his involvement in the physical activity and sport sector and his own journey has helped him improve his mental wellbeing. He said: “It gives me motivation to not just be active for me, but for my family and friends. Movement helps me find ways to cope with living with Fibromyalgia and daily self management of my depression and anxiety. I have engaged in many initiatives like the Essex All Together ambassador programme and the Coach Core apprentice scheme to ensure I am able to encourage, support and inspire others to move more. I have seen first hand the positive effect it can have on both my physical and mental health and hope others will find that benefit too.”

Physical activity and sport is about finding what is right for you. Whatever movement it may be, the benefits are endless and we hope that these short stories will help inspire you to get moving today, find something you love, and help you improve your mental wellbeing and outlook on life.