The city’s biggest physical activity and sports provider, Edinburgh Leisure, has launched a new film, focusing on the benefits of getting active to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Produced by Edinburgh based Heehaw, the film, video and animation company, the film shares ‘real-life’ stories where people’s mental health issues have been improved through physical activity.

A father with a young baby, his mood, exacerbated by his responsibilities; a student overwhelmed by her studies; and an isolated, lonely older man, see their mental wellbeing change for the better as they take part in swimming, climbing and walking football.

Helen Macfarlane, Head of Active Communities, explained: “It is estimated that one in four people will experience a mental health issue each year.

“We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health – and it’s equally as important to know how to look after it, and how to ask for help if we need it. I hope our short film will encourage more people, who may find themselves in similar situations as the people in the film, to seek out physical activity to protect and improve their mental health. I hope that if the film resonates with people that they will like and share on social media to spread the message.”

Physical activity has been proven to decrease the stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released through physical activity, the mood is boosted naturally. As well as endorphins, exercise also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals work together to make people feel good.

Being physically active can also widen social connections to build strong relationships that make individuals feel happier, more secure and included in the community – improving a person’s ability to maintain good mental wellbeing.

Edinburgh Leisure Mental Health Film from Edinburgh Leisure on Vimeo.

Edinburgh Leisure, an independent charity, is dedicated to creating opportunities to help everyone lead more active, healthy, lives. With over 30 venues across the city, they offer a range of activities suitable for all ages and stages.

Their Active Communities Programme runs a range of projects that offer additional help and support to people who face the greatest barriers to getting active, including those affected by health conditions, disabilities, inequalities and poverty.

One of their projects, Healthy Active Minds, uses physical activity to help people living with mild to moderate depression, stress, anxiety or low mood to improve their mental wellbeing.

The project welcomes referrals from GP’s and mental health professionals. Their specialist team offers personalised motivational support to help people find the right activities for them and enable them to make lifestyle changes and to stay active.

For more information on the Healthy Active Minds project, contact the team: