Physical activity interventions in severe mental illness

by Dr Amit Mistry and Dr Lynne Drummond


Published: November 2018


People with severe mental illness are less likely to attain the Chief Medical Officers' (CMOs') recommended weekly physical activity guidelines when compared to the general population. The reasons for this are multifactorial and the increasing  premature mortality gap in severe mental illness needs to be proactively addressed.


Physical activity is a cheap, accessible treatment option that could improve cardiometabolic health and mental health symptomatology. The beneficial effects of physical activity within severe mental illness can be categorised through the biopsychosocial model. There are, however, potential risks and contraindications associated with physical activity initiation in severe mental illness, as outlined by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) exercise prescription guidelines.


Psychiatrists can validate the benefits of regular physical activity and healthier lifestyle choices for patients. In this module, which includes expertise from leading researchers and service users involved with physical activity interventions, we will:


  • highlight current societal trends in physical activity 


  • outline the current physical activity guidelines


  • assist you in understanding the common terminology used in physical activity literature


  • provide the latest evidence base for physical activity interventions


  • explore initiatives for implementation in medical practice.


Start the module


If you like this module, you may also be interested in:

Sports psychiatry
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Feeling better – lifestyle management for chronic mental disorders by Dr Ursula Werneke


Metabolic syndrome and schizophrenia by Dr Arijit Bose and Dr Sepehr Hafizi


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