Dame Kelly Holmes encourages Britain to get more active to help boost mental health this winter

Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, is partnering with Dame Kelly Holmes to increase understanding of the benefits physical activity has to help improve mental health.

The partnership comes at a time where the UK is facing unprecedented pressures on its collective mental health, with new Google data analysis showed that ‘mental health support’ this year are 52% higher than in 2019. Searches for support this Winter are also expected to surge – as searches for support during winter have also been on average 26% higher than in summer.

We collected data earlier this year has already shown that 34% of people said their emotional or mental health had got worse in the last year, and 32% said their physical health had also got worse.

Further new research from our Healthier Nation Index reveals that UK adults are doing an average of just 64 minutes of moderate exercise per week – less than half the NHS recommended amount. The North West is the most active at 71 minutes, with London lagging behind at just 59 minutes per week of exercise.

Only one in three (36%) are aware that that the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for adults. Moderate exercise is defined as activity that raises your heart rate, for example brisk walking, dancing or riding a bike.[1] 60% of adults say a lack of motivation is a barrier to exercising and a third (32%) don’t know how to get started. 

Following the findings, former Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has partnered with us to tackle barriers to physical activity and to motivate and inspire the nation to move more for both body and mind. Dame Kelly is supporting the charity’s “Find 5” campaign to encourage people to take a small amount of time each day to do something for both their physical and mental health and to try a new exercise or sport. 

We have also launched a series of five-minute guides to provide information on how to get started and suggestions on easy ways of trying new activities.

Dame Kelly Holmes, former Olympian and Nuffield Health Ambassador, said: “I’ve been talking about my mental health for many years, however, it’s only recently that I’ve truly understood the fundamental link between good physical health and good mental health.  

It’s so important we recognise the role exercise can play not only in improving our wellbeing but to also tackle the mental health crisis facing the country starting now. It’s for these reasons that I am proud to partner with Nuffield Health, to champion the benefits of moving more for the body and mind and boost the nationals mental and physical resilience.

Just five minutes of movement can help give you purpose, focus and the ability to feel good about something every single day. Don’t do it for anyone else, do it for you. Be the person that calls your friend and asks them out for a walk, to an outdoor bootcamp or to the gym – it all makes a big difference.” 

Our Medical Director, Dr Davina Deniszczyc, said: “This new Healthier Nation Index data has shown that the UK is struggling to get active, but people are also unaware of just how beneficial it can be for both physical and mental health. Now, more than ever, we need to help people better understand the benefits of exercise for both body and mind, as well as provide the tools to try new activities and build healthy habits for life. 

“We’re so proud to be working with Dame Kelly to help to break down the barriers to exercise and get the nation moving more. She emphasises resilience and demonstrates what making positive changes for yourself can achieve, no matter what challenges or barriers life is presenting.”

More information can be found at https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/healthiernation.

The #Find5 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.



Minutes spent doing moderate exercise each week

Percentage of recommended amount

NHS recommended amount



National average



North West



Yorkshire and the Humber



East Midlands



South West






South East



North East



East of England






West Midlands






Last updated Monday 10 October 2022

First published on Monday 10 October 2022