Mental Health Awareness Month At Fitness Connection
Physical and mental health go hand in hand. There’s no denying that regular physical activity boasts amazing benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss and increased stamina. But, to truly reap the rewards of exercise you have to look at your entire well-being. At first glance this may seem difficult – how do we incorporate mental health awareness while pushing ourselves through an intense workout? In this blog post, we will explore ways you can incorporate mental well-being habits into your fitness routines for optimal overall health.
The impact of mental health awareness on fitness
Mental health awareness often takes a backseat to physical health and well-being. This can be especially true in gyms, where appearance is highly valued and mental illness is often seen as a sign of weakness. However, it’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Everyone deserves to feel safe and supported when they go to the gym, no matter what they’re struggling with internally. According to UCLA Health, research shows that people have an average of 3.4 poor mental health days per month. However, the number of days drops by over 40% for those who exercise regularly.
Mental well-being is important to us.
Fitness is a form of self-care. Fonda Bryant, a mental health advocate and member of the FitFam since 2012 says that “Self-care isn’t selfish. We have to help ourselves first in order to help others. Mental health is health. Mental health is physical health. Mind and body are one.”
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is by investing in your physical health through regular exercise. During Mental Health Awareness Month especially, it’s important to think about how we can make self-care part of our daily routine. Working out is an excellent way to not only improve our physical health but also our mental health by relieving stress and boosting energy levels.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re offering Find Your Calm | Mental Wellness Week classes from May 15-21 to encourage our community to build each other up.
Positive impact of exercise
According to The National Library of Medicine, “exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.”
It’s easy to say we want to work out more often but much harder to actually do it. That’s why setting small goals for yourself—and making sure you stick with them—is key when it comes to making fitness part of your lifestyle. Try setting aside 30 minutes every day for physical activity or finding an accountability partner who will keep you motivated when things get tough.
One of our members, @_lostant_ , says that “The gym is a place where you can challenge yourself, push your limits, and make progress towards your fitness goals. Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your dreams. Embrace the challenge and let your hard work speak for itself. Remember, everyone starts somewhere, and everyone has their own journey. There’s no shame in being a beginner or making mistakes. It’s all part of the process. So let’s leave our fears at the door and show up to the gym with confidence and determination. We’ve got this!” Feeling good about yourself (especially through exercise) is essential for your mental and emotional well-being.
Fueling your mind and body.
Mental health is about the whole being including how you fuel your body and your mind and body operate better when you fuel them properly. Being well revolves around eating well and treating your body with respect. We know that how we fuel our bodies determines how well we function at the gym, but it also affects how our brains work. According to Aetna, “studies have even found that clean diets consisting of mainly whole, unprocessed foods, can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whereas unhealthy diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke.”
You are not alone.
FitFam members come to Fitness Connection because of the strong community they find here. There are so many ways to find support, whether that’s working out with a partner, being motivated by the comradery of group classes, reducing equipment anxiety by working with a trainer or getting your “me time” by focusing on yourself with a solo workout.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, there are resources to support you. The emergency number for the National Hotline for Mental Health Crises and Suicide Prevention is 988. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.