Accessibility statement

IMPACT - Increasing Physical Activity in a Medium Secure Service: The Development and Feasibility of a Physical Activity Intervention

Many people become overweight due to the effects of poor diet, and less active lifestyles. Being obese can affect people’s heath and lead to type 2 diabetes and heart problems. People with severe mental health problems find it more difficult to live healthy lifestyles. They have a shorter life span by about 10-20 years and obesity rates up to four times higher than the general population. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more difficult for people in medium secure mental health units. Currently there are about 6000 people detained in mental health units in the UK, of which 3500 are at a medium secure level. As they are not free to leave this can limit the service user’s ability to engage in physical activity, the sedative effect of prescribed medication and the tendency for some mental health problems to induce a rapid psychological response (immediate sweating and increased heart rate) when exercising can also be barriers.  A recent review of 83 service users in a medium secure unit in England showed that only 18 had maintained their admission weight whilst the remaining 65 had increased their weight since admission. The tendency for service users in secure services to gain weight following admission and its links with other mental and physical health issues are therefore a problem that warrants urgent attention.  This study aims to co-produce a physical health intervention and incorporate it into medium secure services, establish medium secure service users’ and staffs’ perceptions and experience of the physical activity intervention; and test whether the intervention is sufficiently developed to be evaluated in a future pilot randomised control trial.

This is a 24-month mixed-methods project with four complementary phases:

  • Phase 1: Understanding medium secure service users’ and staff views on the barriers and facilitators to physical activity
  • Phase 2: Key stakeholders’ and service users views on designing, delivering, establishing engagement and maintaining commitment to attend physical activity interventions in medium secure care
  • Phase 3: Intervention development
  • Phase 4: Feasibility study


Funder(s): Research for Patient Benefit (NIHR201176)
Start Date: July 2021
End Date: May 2023


YTU Team:

External Members:

  • Professor Tammi Walker, Teeside University - Chief Investigator
  • Professor Elizabeth Hughes, University of Leeds - Co-applicant
  • Dr Kiara Lewis, University of Huddersfield - Co-applicant
  • Mr Phil Walters, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation -Co-applicant
  • Professor Mike Lucock, University of Huddersfield and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - Co-applicant
  • Dr Simon Gibbon, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - Co-applicant
  • Mr Bal Singh, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - Co-applicant