Mental ill health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, with the annual economic cost in England estimated at £105.3 billion each year through costs of services, lost productivity and reduced quality of life.

Physical activity is not only connected to fitness but closely linked with mental wellbeing. Through tackling inactivity, Intelligent Health’s award-winning interventions create lasting improvements to mental wellbeing for whole communities.

Beat the Street transforms towns and cities into a giant game with thousands of people competing with their school, community group or business to see how far they can travel over six weeks. The game improves mental wellbeing by not only increasing players’ physical activity levels but by giving them a sense of purpose through supporting their chosen team.

The Beat the Street scheme in Stranraer saw more than a third of local residents participate. Using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), the programme was used to explore the psychological benefits of Beat the Street.

Data at registration revealed a strong correlation between mental wellbeing and physical activity at a community-wide level, with mental wellbeing significantly lower for residents reporting zero days of physical activity. However, data collected immediately after the game showed an increase in mental wellbeing for participants — most notably for those who reported zero days of activity at the beginning of the game.

WEMWBS score measured by self-reported days of physical activity for Beat the Street Stranraer players.

Physical activity is not the only driving factor for the changes in mental wellbeing after playing Beat the Street. The game gives participants a sense of purpose, helps them connect with their neighbours and feel closer to their community — which is why so many players report positive benefits for their wellbeing after taking part.

To find out more about how Beat the Street can improve mental health and wellbeing in your community, get in touch.