Sport and physical activity

How can physical activity be better utilised within NHS Talking Therapies? 

Findings and recommendations report

A new report has been released that explores how physical activity could be better utilised within NHS Talking Therapies, to help improve the mental health outcomes of service users. There is overwhelming evidence that physical activity can reduce the risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, as well as helping to manage the symptoms.

Led by Transformation Partners in Health and Care, alongside Sport England and the Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust, the new report follows interviews with nearly 400 people including NHS Talking Therapies staff, community physical activity providers, commissioners and service users.

It found that there was a widespread appetite to do more to increase physical activity levels through Talking Therapies services, with the majority of those interviewed saying they didn’t think enough was being done currently, due to barriers like a lack of knowledge or time.

The report contains a series of recommendations to help improve the use of physical activity, from equipping staff with more knowledge and furthering collaboration between services, to the development of guides and communities of practice.

The recommendations include suggestions to:

  1. Review and refresh national NHS Talking Therapies guidance and incentives to recognise physical activity as a priority for NHS Talking Therapies services.
  2. Equip and empower NHS Talking Therapies staff with the knowledge and skills to give advice on physical activity and motivate service users to move more.
  3. Facilitate collaboration and sharing of expertise between NHS Talking Therapies services and local partners to achieve shared goals.
  4. Develop a joint plan to better promote best practice and emerging work in this area with credible partners in physical activity and mental health.

Download the full report and supporting resources below:


Report launch recap

Watch back the recording of our virtual launch webinar here which took place on 23 March. View the webinar presentations here and a training pack here.