With the Olympics now in full swing, plenty of attention is being paid to the physical benefits of exercise.

And while the Games are being used as a chance to reinforce this message, especially for children and young people, it's also worth remembering the importance physical activity can have on mental health too - as a recent study in Scotland has revealed.

An independent evaluation of the Scottish Association for Mental Health 'Get Active' pilot scheme - which was launched by Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in 2009 - found that 91 per cent of participants felt happier for taking part.

The initiative aims to improve mental health through physical activity, and is funded by Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland (LTCAS) and Comic Relief. More than 600 people have taken part in the pilot scheme, in a range of activities including football, tennis, walking and gardening.

Ian Crawford, SAMH's Get Active Programme Manager, said: "Participants got involved in the Get Active pilots for a variety of reasons, from improving fitness to getting out of the house. Many of those involved were surprised and inspired by the level of impact their involvement had on their physical health, and how much they benefited in terms of their mental health, confidence and outlook on life. We are delighted by the results and are looking forward to the next phase."

Meanwhile, one midwife from Bedfordshire got well and truly into the Olympic spirit - by taking part in the opening ceremony.

Jane Logan (pictured with director Danny Boyle), senior lecturer in midwifery at the University of Bedfordshire and a midwifery link lecturer at Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, was one of 800 volunteers from the NHS who wowed the nation in the section paying homage to the NHS.

Jane LoganShe said: "The ceremony's director Mr Danny Boyle has attended each rehearsal and has been a consistent source of outstanding support, encouragement and laughter to the NHS volunteers. He has patiently signed thousands of autographs, smiled for thousands of photographs and hugged, what feels and sounds like, every single NHS volunteer taking part in the ceremony.

"Without question, it has been a pleasure to meet and work for this enigmatic and inspirational man who publicly, has never wavered in his belief that the 800 NHS volunteers taking part in tonight's show, with the many other volunteers, have the ability to master and deliver an outstanding performance. It has been an amazing experience and has reaffirmed how great the NHS is."


Story posted by Robert Mair on 02/08/2012