Seven surprising ways your mobile phone can help you move more and improve your mental health

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is movement and how moving more can improve our mental health. In this article, we share seven ways your mobile phone can motivate you to move more.  

close up of woman walking with other walkers in the background

We all understand that moving more during our working day benefits the body and mind. However, teachers are often so busy that finding time to take a break is tough. If we squeeze in a break, the temptation is to grab our mobile phones and scroll through social media. But what if we could use our phones to help us be more active instead?  

This Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s discover how our mobile phones can encourage us to move more, turning them from distractions into tools for better physical and mental health.  

Below are seven ideas, why not try one today? 


1. Look for birds

If you can take a short outdoor walk during your lunch break, consider paying attention to the birds. Download a free bird identification app such as Merlin Bird ID and try to recognise as many birds as possible by taking a photo or recording birdsong. Could you ask a colleague to join you and share the wellbeing benefits? 


2. Spot plants and trees

If you are more interested in plants and trees, download a free plant identification app. Picture This uses AI to help you discover over 12,000 plants, flowers, succulents, and trees. How many can you spot on a short midday walk?  

Identifying birds and plants gets you moving and reconnects you with nature, providing a refreshing mental break from your daily routine.


3. Track your steps

Your mobile device likely has a built-in step and floor counter – start using this feature more mindfully and see if you can make gradual increases; the health benefits over time can be significant. Can you create a friendly challenge with a colleague or team to create accountability? Consider trying an app like StepUp for your challenge. Tracking your steps is an excellent way to increase movement, particularly if getting outdoors is sometimes tricky and you must keep your mobile device hidden. 


4. Stretch at your desk

If you struggle to get away from your desk but still want to introduce some gentle movement, try a desk stretch app like StretchMinder. The StretchMinder blog also features expert tips and stretch demonstrations. Regular stretching can reduce physical strain and mental stress. 


5. Schedule a dance break

Playing music may not be appropriate in a shared office. However, if your colleagues are game, create a playlist of uplifting music on your mobile and spend five minutes moving your body during a typical afternoon slump. 


6. Listen and learn

Why not combine movement with professional or personal development by listening to a podcast while taking a short walk? Your mobile phone probably already has a podcast app, but it is worth experimenting with a few as they have different features. For example, the Snipd app allows you to highlight, transcribe, and take notes on podcasts. Check out this article on our favourite Further Education podcasts for podcast inspiration.


7. Set reminders  

Use your mobile to remind you to move and stretch. You can set these reminders any way you like, but a gentle nudge (like a vibration) is better than a loud, distracting alarm.  



Ideally, leaving your mobile in the office and taking a refreshing walk might be the best way to disconnect and recharge. However, if your phone can motivate you to be more active, let’s use it to our advantage. Try one of these seven methods today to start moving more. Each small step can significantly improve your mental and physical health. 


Martine Ellis (FSET ATS) is a writer, speaker, and trainer specialising in professional development and wellbeing-driven productivity.  

Image: Canva