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The University of Southampton
Student Disability & WellbeingPart of Student Services

Exercise Referral Scheme

You almost certainly already know that an inactive lifestyle contributes to physical problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis but how often do you consider the contribution of physical exercise to your mental health?

People stretching in front of mirror

Most of us find that a sunny walk or trip to the gym improves our mood in the short term. Exercise is well known to stimulate the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones which can make problems seem more manageable.

The simple act of focusing on exercise can give us a break from current concerns and damaging self-talk. Further, depending on the activity, people may benefit from calming exercises, be energized, and get outside or interact with others, all of which are known to improve mood and general health.

Woman smiling on exercise bike

The Exercise Referral Scheme is a programme designed to show participants how they can use general activity and exercise to help improve both their physical and mental wellbeing, both under the guidance of an instructor and self supported. Activities can include fitness classes, swimming, gym sessions, racquet sports and home workout plans so there really is something for everyone to help you introduce activity into your life! For more details please speak with your Wellbeing Practitioner. 

I have definitely benefited from the Exercise Referral sessions - they taught me how to use all the equipment and gave me the confidence to go to the gym by myself. It has helped my mental health as I was doing no exercise at all before and I am a lot fitter and healthier because of the support I was given. Jo was great at making me feel comfortable and confident in the workouts I was doing and I am very grateful for the experience.

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