Thriving in turbulent times can physical activity help us cope
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Thriving in turbulent times- can physical activity help us cope?. Nanette Mutrie Professor of Exercise and Sport Psychology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Director of the Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration ( ).

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Thriving in turbulent times can physical activity help us cope l.jpg

Thriving in turbulent times- can physical activity help us cope?

Nanette Mutrie

Professor of Exercise and Sport Psychology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Director of the Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration (

World health organisation 2004 g lobal strategy for diet and physical activity l.jpg
World Health Organisation 2004 cope?Global Strategy for Diet and Physical Activity

  • Appropriate regular physical activity is a major component in preventing the growing global burden of chronic disease.

  • At least 60% of the global population fails to achieve the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes moderate intensity physical activity daily (60 minutes for children).

  • The risk of getting most major diseases increases by around 2 times in people who do not follow minimum physical activity recommendations.

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What can be done- WHO 2004 cope?

  • Increasing physical activity is a societal, not just an individual problem, and demands a population-based, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and culturally relevant approach.

  • Opportunities for people to be physically active exist in the four major domains of their day:

    • At work (whether or not the work involves manual labour).

    • For transport (walking or cycling to work, to shop etc).

    • During domestic duties (housework, gathering fuel etc).

    • In leisure time (sports and recreational activities).

  • In Scotland we have a physical activity policy ‘let’s make Scotland more active’

    • By 2022 50% of adults will meet minimum recommendations

  • Technological advances and changing lifestyles l.jpg
    Technological advances and changing lifestyles cope?

    • Fewer active jobs

    • Greater reliance on motorised transport

    • Energy-saving devices in the home, at work and shopping environment

    • Attractive and cheap home screen entertainment

    What do we mean by regular physical activity adults from let s make scotland more active l.jpg
    What do we mean by regular physical activity? cope?– Adults (from ‘let’s make Scotland more active’)

    • For general health benefit, adults should achieve a total of at least 30 minutes a day of at least moderate intensity physical activity on 5 or more days of the week.

    • The recommended levels of activity can be achieved either by doing all the daily activity in one session, or through several shorter bouts of activity of 10 minutes or more. The activity can be lifestyle activity or structured exercise or sport or a combination of these.

    Physical activity and good mental health l.jpg

    The feel good effect cope?

    People report that being active makes them ‘feel good’

    People who are regularly active ‘feel worse’ when they are not active

    Large scale surveys and experimental studies show that activity is positively linked to psychological well being

    Self esteem is higher among active children than non active children

    Cognitive function improves for older adults who begin to exercise

    People who remain regularly active have less risk of age related cognitive decline

    Physical Activity and Good Mental Health

    Biddle, S. J. H., & Mutrie, N. (2008). Psychology of physical activity: determinants, well-being, and interventions (2nd edition ed.). London: Routledge.

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    Turbulent times are stressful times cope?

    • somatic: headaches, muscle tension, back pain, dry mouth, heart racing, going ‘red’, exhaustion...…...

    • cognitive: worrying, doubting, fearing, poor concentration, panicking.......................

    • behavioural: poor sleep, eating badly, drinking too much, stop exercising, irritable, poor time-keeping ................……...

    Physical activity pa could be a stress buster l.jpg
    Physical activity (PA) could be a cope?‘stress buster’

    • moderate PA can reduce stress indices

      • BP, HR, RR, Adrenaline, stress hormones

    • active people recover from stressful events more quickly than less active people - homeostasis

    • PA can provide a positive distraction from work and other stresses

    • PA is associated with good mental health and positive mood states

    • PA can make you feel better about yourself

    • PA can help some people sleep better

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    Some evidence cope?

    Walking for Well-being in the West

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    Purpose of WWW cope?

    • One way was pedometers

    • A recent review we published in the British Medical Journal examined the different ways in which walking can be promoted

    • Lack of long term


      Ogilvie, D., Foster, C. E., Rothnie, H., Cavill, N., Hamilton, V., Fitzsimons, C. F., & Mutrie, N., on behalf of Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration,. (2007). Interventions to promote walking: systematic review. BMJ, 334, 1204-1207.

    Slide12 l.jpg

    12-week Results cope?step-counts


    • Intervention group

      • Significant increase of 3,175 steps/day

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    12-week Results cope?health related outcomes

    Mean score

    Slide14 l.jpg

    Best cope?


    health state














    health state

    Well-beingover 12 months

    Score (out of 100)

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    Preventing Poor Mental Health and Providing a Therapeutic Role in Chronic Disease States

    • Several epidemiological studies show a protective effect for PA on depression

    • Physical activity has been shown to improve quality of life for those coping with:

      • Mental health problems

      • Type ii diabetes

      • Cardiac Rehab

      • Pregnancy

      • Alcohol abuse

      • Breast cancer

    Mutrie & Faulkner, 2004 in Linley and Joseph (Eds) Positive psychology in practice. Wiley:NJ

    Slide17 l.jpg

    Quotes from focus groups: Role in Chronic Disease StatesEmslie, C., Whyte, F., Campbell, A., Mutrie, N., Lee, L., Ritchie, D., Kearney, N. (2007). “I wouldn’t have been interested in just sitting round a table talking about cancer”; exploring the experiences of women with breast cancer in a group exercise trial Health Education Research, 2007 available on line.

    • Perceived benefits of the exercise intervention

      You felt better after it.. lifted. I just felt generally that my health had improved in that hour. Aye, I think I was on a high possibly! (Respondent 3, group 3, intervention arm)

      I might have had to crawl down (to the class) but when I came out after it was over I felt totally different. I had so much more energy. (Respondent 1, group 6, intervention arm)

    How can this happen the somatopsychic rationale l.jpg

    Psychosomatic rationales suggest that the mind can influence the body

    Somatopsychic suggests the other way round- the body influences how we think and feel

    So there may be a somatopsychic rationale for psychological benefit from being physically active

    Mens sana in corpore sano

    William James (1899) ‘our muscular vigor will…always be needed to furnish the background of sanity,and cheerfulness to life, to give moral elasticity to our dispositions, to round off the wiry edge of our fretfulness, and make us good-humoured

    Neuroscience: being physically active increases neurotransmission, releases mood enhancing substances (endorphins, serotonin), changes the pattern of brain activity

    How can this happen?The somatopsychic rationale

    Technological advances and changing lifestyles19 l.jpg
    Technological advances and changing lifestyles the body

    • Fewer active jobs

    • Greater reliance on motorised transport

    • Energy-saving devices in the home, at work and shopping environment

    • Attractive and cheap home screen entertainment

    Slide20 l.jpg

    Eight million years the body

    20 years!

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    Causes of obesity the body


    Individual psychology




    Physical activity


    Food production

    Food consumption


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    What can we do? the body

    • Do some more walking every day

    • Find activities that are fun to do

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    Walking Goals the body

    • Week 1 and 2:

      • an additional 1,500 steps at least 3 days/week

    • Week 3 and 4:

      • increase to 5 days/week

    • Week 5 and 6:

      • an additional 3,000 steps on at least 3 days/week

    • Week 7:

      • increase to 5 days/week

    • Week 8-12:

      • maintain week 7

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    Paths to Health train walk leaders the body

    “One of my greatest achievements was completing the Walk Leader training last year”

    John, Walkaboutabit, Islay

    “Its not only the physical health reasons that make walking so good for everyone but also the benefits to your inner self by sharing our beautiful countryside with other like-minded people”

    Danny, Renfrewshire walks, Renfrewshire

    “Walking keeps you young and allows you to do other things. It’s pure, dead, brilliant”

    Chris, Next Steps, Blairgowrie

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    Conclusions And Discussion the body

    • Physical activity can help some of the pressing issues of these ‘turbulent times’

      • Stress management

      • Improving physical and mental health

      • Obesity prevention

    • You can start by

      • increasing the amount of walking you do

      • find some fun in your activity sessions!

    • Over to Sharon McNeish [[email protected]]