The relationship between physical and mental health

Explore the connection between your physical and mental health

Written by Megan Stonecipher


When it comes to talking about physical and mental health there is often a distinction made between the two.  Most people find that problems with the mind have little to no connection with problems of the body.  Although if you think about it, can we really be completely physically healthy without being mentally healthy and vice versa?  Research has shown that poor physical health can lead to mental health problems, and that poor mental health can lead to physical health problems.  

This is especially seen with disorders like depression and schizophrenia.  People living with depression and schizophrenia are much more likely to be prone to physical health problems as well.  People living with schizophrenia are at double the risk of dying from heart disease and are at triple the risk of dying from respiratory disease.  On the other hand people who are experiencing depression have approximately a 70% increased risk of dying due to heart disease, and have a 50% increased risk of dying due to cancer.  

Because researchers have established a link between physical and mental health, it is important to keep up with both so that you are fully healthy. There are several ways to ensure that you are both physically and mentally healthy, listed below are some factors that influence your mental and physical health and preventative measures that you can take to ensure your overall wellbeing.

Factors and preventative measures


  • Exercise is not only a great way to stay physically healthy but also is a great way to stay mentally healthy as well.
  • Length and types of exercise can vary, but it is recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate activity for at least 5 days a week.
  • Exercise has been proven to increase self-esteem and self-confidence levels.
  • Even 10 minutes of exercise has been shown to increase mental awareness, overall energy, and promote a more positive mood.
  • Check out some great tools for staying active from Get Ireland Active.


  • It has been shown that eating a balanced and nutritious diet can improve both our physical and mental health.
  • The food we eat can help with the management and prevention of several physical and mental health problems (i.e., heart disease, depression, and so on).
  • Learn more about maintaining a healthy diet from safefood.


  • Smoking negatively affects both physical and mental health.
  • A large majority of people believe that smoking solves their problems, but they don’t realize that it is only a short-term fix for a long-term problem.
  • Nicotine which is found in cigarettes is highly addictive and interferes with some of the neurotransmitters in our brains.
  • The best way to ensure you are physically and mentally healthy is to stop smoking.

Positive mental health

  • Maintaining positive mental health is often recommended for mental health problems, but is also often overlooked for physical health problems.
  • Having positive mental health is both beneficial for mental and physical health, especially since there is a relationship between mental and physical health.
  • Learn more about positive mental health here.

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