Physical activity preferences and perceived barriers to activity among persons with severe mental illness in the United Kingdom

Psychiatr Serv. 2007 Mar;58(3):405-8. doi: 10.1176/ps.2007.58.3.405.


Objective: This study assessed physical activity interests among psychiatric patients.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 120 psychiatric patients in the United Kingdom assessed preferences for physical activity, perceived barriers to activity, and other psychosocial factors related to exercise levels.

Results: Compared with the general population, respondents were less active. Respondents reported very little confidence in their ability to exercise when feeling sad or stressed, and they reported low levels of social support toward exercising. Approximately half the respondents or more expressed a belief in the health benefits of exercise, enjoyment of exercise, and a desire to be more active. Walking was the most popular activity, and fatigue and illness were the most common barriers to activity. Equal numbers preferred individual and group activities. A majority agreed that they would exercise more if they talked with an exercise instructor or were advised by their doctor.

Conclusions: Physical activity interventions for the psychiatric population need to bridge the gap between high interest and low uptake through, for example, professional support and enhancing self-efficacy by combating barriers and tailoring to preferences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology