Hon Grant Robertson
Minister for Sport and Recreation
10 October 2018
New research confirms physical activity tied to healthy mental wellbeing
New research from Sport New Zealand shows that physically active Kiwis are more likely to have good mental health,
Minister for Sport and Recreation, Grant Robertson, said today.
The research shows that Kiwis who meet the global physical activity recommendations of at least 2.5 hours of moderate to
vigorous-intensity physical activity a week are 51% more likely to have healthy mental wellbeing.
“These findings are particularly important this week as we focus our collective attention on mental wellbeing for Mental
Health Awareness Week,” Grant Robertson said.
“The association between physical activity and mental wellbeing is emerging internationally. We now have New
Zealand-based data that adds compelling evidence to the global picture.
“It’s time as a country that we look seriously at the contribution physical activity makes to improved wellbeing. Sport
and active recreation are not only one of the most cost-effective ways of supporting mental health, but as we continue
to understand its impacts, the research is showing it’s one of the most powerful approaches for reducing and preventing
“We want to see New Zealanders being active both because they enjoy it, and because they understand how it can improve
their lives,” Grant Robertson said
A review of international literature submitted to the New Zealand Government Inquiry into Mental Health showed that
physical activity reduces the chance of experiencing depression by 10% in children (5-18 years), 22% in adults (18-64
years) and 21% in older adults (65+ years).
“Previously, there has been very little work done on physical activity from a mental health perspective. Traditionally,
we have looked at the physical benefits of being active, but this is one of the first analyses to really explore
different qualities of physical activity when considering mental wellbeing, and it’s shown that it deserves more
attention,” said Grant Robertson.