Phases in physical activity initiation and maintenance among men with serious mental illness

David Carless*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing interest in the role of physical activity in mental health promotion, and research suggests that regular participation can provide mental and physical health benefits. However, there is little information on how people with serious mental illness might negotiate the challenges of initiating and maintaining physical activity. This article describes an ethnographic study which explored how four men with serious mental illness successfully incorporated physical activity into their lives. Seven phases characterised the process of initiating and maintaining participation: (i) previous experience of positive physical activity, (ii) cessation of physical activity during acute stage/s of illness, (iii) stabilisation of mental health, (iv) intensive social support, (v) immediate psychosocial benefits, (vi) diversification of physical activity forms and (vii) increasing personal control. These phases are discussed with the intention of providing guidance for those interested in offering and facilitating physical activity opportunities for men with serious mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Promotion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • mental health promotion
  • exercise adoption
  • adherence
  • sport


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