One in three adults believe their mental health has deteriorated over the past year, survey results suggest.
Some 37% of adults are also more concerned about their mental health due to coronavirus, and 40% are worried about their physical state, according to a poll of 8,000 people in the UK by Nuffield Health.
Despite this, 42% of respondents said they spend no time looking after their mental health and 15% admit they have not done any exercise in the last year.
Most adults, 85%, do not meet the NHS recommended 75 minutes a week of “vigorous exercise”, which could include walking up the stairs, aerobics, swimming and running.
The average Briton completes 40 minutes of exercise a week, according to the survey, called the Healthier Nation Index.
Some 40% of women cited embarrassment as a barrier to exercise, and 29% of men.
In response to the survey, Nuffield Health has launched a campaign called Find Time For Your Mind, which aims to encourage people to spend five extra minutes a day exercising or focusing on their mental wellbeing.
Gosia Bowling, emotional wellbeing lead at Nuffield Health, said the survey results show that a more “connected approach” to mental and physical health is needed to improve the nation’s health.
She said: “The findings from this year’s Healthier Nation Index are a stark warning that as an industry and society we need to boost our activity levels in order to counteract the mental and physical health crisis we are facing after two years of pandemic.
“Five minutes a day will put people on a pathway back to good health, overcoming the initial barrier of getting started and helping develop better habits.
“Taking a proactive and connected approach to our emotional and physical wellbeing is vital as we look to recover and build a healthier nation.”
Nigel Owens, former international rugby union referee and mental wellbeing ambassador for the Healthier Nation Index said that everyday tasks like carrying groceries can count as daily exercise.
He said: “Knowing where, how and why to start exercising can be overwhelming, however I know through my own experiences that being active even in the smallest way is so important for both mental and physical health, and I’m proud to be championing this important campaign.
“We’re urging everyone to #find5 and do whatever workout feels good for them, it could even include carrying heavy shopping from the supermarket or dancing around your kitchen.”