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4 Ways Physical Activity Can Transform Mental Wellbeing in Schools

For Mental Health Awareness Week we wanted to raise awareness of the transformational power of physical activity on mental wellbeing.

Physical activity is one of the best tools we can use to protect and build the mental wellbeing of our staff and students and enable them to RISE Up after a torrid few years.

It is now statutory for schools to teach the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing to their young people.

We have created the acronym RISE to help teach young people in a memorable way how they can boost their mental wellbeing through physical activity now and long after they have left school.

The 4 different categories of activities boost mental wellbeing in a variety of ways to meet young people's individual needs and give them greater ownership over how they can manage their mental wellbeing.


Repeaters are activities where we have repetitive movement over a prolonged period of time such as running, walking, rowing etc. Deep breathing in yoga also has the same effect. Repetitive deep breathing calms the amygdala increasing their window of tolerance leading to calmer, more relaxed young people. It incorporates trauma informed practice and has shown to improve students’ relationships, behaviour, progress and attainment in our partnership schools.

Inclusive Teams

Inclusive team sports are ideal for boosting our mental wellbeing. We strive for social connection as human beings. When we feel included, working together towards a common goal and part of something bigger than ourselves our body releases oxytocin, one of the happiness chemicals which makes us feel loved.

For many young people one of their biggest losses over the pandemic was missing out on their competitive sports fixtures with their teams and missing their teammates which led to a sense of loss and bereavement.

In many schools we work with, the return of fixtures has created an opportunity for our young people to heal and bring schools’ communities back together again.

Stress Busters

Many of our young people are struggling to deal with the pent-up anger and frustration over what they have lived through and missed out on over the last few years. We need to find a way for them to release this stress and anger in a safe and controlled manner. Physical activity can be a great vehicle to do this.

Stress busting activities such as boxing, weight training, contact rugby, smashing a ball, or yoga for our introverts relieve stress and tension by releasing endorphins.


Energising activities such as circuit training, high tempo dance, & HIIT training are great physical activities that trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin which boost our confidence and motivation and make young people feel energised and happier.

Here at Future Action we guide over 80 highly innovative schools across the world to train their hard working teachers in how they can improve students’ mental wellbeing through physical activity in conjunction with our RISE Up roadmap to create world leading Early intervention whole school mental wellbeing programmes.

We show schools how they can implement these activities within Physical Education, RSHE, form times, enrichment clubs, drop-down days and five other ways.

The RISE Up Roadmap

Our online teacher training course guides great teachers to help teach their students strategies to reduce their anxiety, build their confidence and create an Early Intervention Mental Wellbeing Programme that has whole school impact within 90 days.

All our resources are editable to save teachers hours of precious planning time and enables teachers to adapt resources to the needs of their students.

Our online teacher training course enables schools to access the training anywhere in the world and reduces school cover costs for CPD.

It is ideal for your Wellbeing leads, RSHE leads, Physical Education teachers and any member of staff who wants to equip themselves with a range of early intervention skills so that they can make a difference.

The RISE Up Scorecard

Our RISE Up scorecard has been created to help your school identify the areas you need to focus on to transform the wellbeing of your students.

You'll be scored in the following key categories :

[1] Activities - a range of physical activities are a fantastic way to transform your students' mental wellbeing by incorporating trauma informed practice.

[2] Mental Fitness - using positive psychology to transform your students' confidence and reduce their anxiety.

[3] Habits - embedding healthy habits and reducing unhealthy habits to enable students to self-care for their wellbeing now and long after they have left your school.

[4] Whole School Impact - identify areas where you can use the power of Physical activity to have whole school impact.

Test your school’s wellbeing provision in 3 minutes by answering 19 simple questions. You will receive your own personalised report with top tips to enhance the quality of your provision to transform the wellbeing of your students and staff.

Taking this super quick quiz will arm you with the information you need to take your school’s early intervention wellbeing programme to the next level. It will give you a way to benchmark your progress in this vital area over the next year.

We would be delighted to go through the answers you have provided in your scorecard and explore different ways we can enhance your school’s wellbeing provision in partnership with you.

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