Physical Activity for Anxiety & Depression

An interesting, and useful, Cochrane Systematic Review – Qualitative Protocol – is now available on the factors that influence participation in physical activity for anxiety and depression:


Main objective: To identify the factors that create barriers or facilitate physical activity for people with a diagnosis of anxiety or depression from the perspectives of service users, carers, service providers and practitioners to help inform the design and implementation of interventions that promote physical activity.

The overall aim of this review is to identify, appraise, and synthesise qualitative research evidence on the barriers and facilitators to engaging in physical activity in general lifestyle settings or as part of an intervention designed to increase physical activity for people with anxiety and depression. This will allow us to identify factors that create barriers and facilitators of physical activity in this population to inform the development, design, and implementation of future interventions. We will also integrate the findings from the QES with the two associated effectiveness reviews (Cooney 2014; Larun 2006). We will communicate our findings to public health commissioners and other stakeholders.

McCartan, C., Yap, J., Firth, J., Stubbs, B., Tully, M., Best, P.,  Webb,  P., White,  C., Gilbody,  S., Churchill,  R., Breedvelt  J.J.F., Davidson, G. (2020). Factors that influence participation in physical activity for anxiety and depression: a synthesis of qualitative evidence. Cochrane database of systematic reviews Issue 3. Art. No.: CD013547. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013547.

Empowerment through physical activity

People with severe mental health problems have a shorter life expectancy and a higher risk of developing some medical conditions. An empowering programme that increases levels of physical activity may play a role in reducing this mortality gap (Mental Health Foundation blog post).

Interested in reading about a research programme which encourages people with serious and enduring mental ill health to be more physically active?

If you are, download our new report here