Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Exercise and mental health
Exercise and mental health

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Exercise and mental health


Physical activity can have a positive effect on aspects of mental health and psychological well-being, such as depression, mood and cognitive function. In this course we will examine the effects that exercise can have on different aspects of our mental health. We will use the case study of Malcolm.

We will begin by defining what is meant by the term ‘mental health’. Corbin et al. (2008, p.5) define mental health and wellness as the absence of mental illness, such as depression, and the ability to cope with daily challenges in a positive, optimistic and constructive manner. Using this definition there are potentially two ways in which exercise can benefit mental health. First, exercise can prevent or reduce the extent of mental illnesses such as depression. Second, exercise can enhance mood and reduce stress levels, thus allowing us to tackle daily challenges in a more positive, optimistic and constructive way.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course E233 Sport and exercise psychology: a case study approach [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .