chrishoySir Chris Hoy has thrown his weight behind a drive to promote the mental health benefits that can stem from keeping physically active. The Edinburgh-born cycling star, who has won six Olympic gold medals, is backing a new partnership between mental health charity SamH and the governing body for athletics in Scotland.

The link-up was launched at the charity’s Redhall Walled Garden training centre in the capital on Thursday by Sir Chris and aspiring 2014 Commonwealth Games 800m athlete Guy Learmonth.

Sir Chris, who has been involved with the charity’s Get Active campaign for several years, said: “The work SamH does across Scotland supports thousands of people with mental health problems and it’s clear to see here at Redhall Walled Garden that increasing physical activity is one of the best steps to take towards better mental health.

“I’m proud to be able to support the incredible work the charity does and to meet service users who have benefited from SamH’s resources.”

The partnership between the charity and scottishathletics focuses on raising awareness of the importance of good mental health to the 28,000 members of jogscotland.

Those involved in the project will also work with athletics coaches to make sure community runners and athletes look after their mental health as well as their physical fitness.

Billy Watson, chief executive of SamH, said: “Physical activity is hugely important for mental health. SamH has carried out programmes for many years which prove that service users who undertake physical activity enjoy improved mental health.”

The charity says it already supports 2500 people every week in around 60 community-based services, including the Redhall Walled Garden.

Nigel Holl, chief executive of scottishathletics, said: “Our partnership with SamH is very important to us, and offers much in the way of assisting both organisations.

“Through the well-established jogscotland programme and our member athletics clubs, we have a focus on physical health programmes to help people start and progress with physical activity. The mental health benefits of physical activity are well documented, but we know SamH can help us improve our support in such a vital area.”