Justin Dominick, the senior director of fitness at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, shares tips for promoting fitness and community as benefits to mental health.
Being able to engage the community at places like JCC’s, YMCA’s and community recreation centers with fitness offerings provides an invaluable service to the health and well-being of our members. Three of the biggest health crises we are facing today includes mental health issues, social isolation and lack of exercise. As community recreation professionals, we are in a unique position to tackle all three by promoting fitness and community.
A consistent exercise program and being part of a strong, vibrant community have many overlapping benefits that can help combat the symptoms of mental health struggles. For some, these can be as effective as medication.
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed, and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems, improve your energy and outlook, and get more out of life.
We’re social beings, and we are not meant to live in isolation. Community is critical for us to thrive, especially for someone with mental illness who is already experiencing the common symptoms of loneliness and isolation. Community provides many elements that are critical to mental health, with three of the most important being belonging, support and purpose.
Being part of a strong, vibrant and diverse fitness community has long been proven to create lasting improvements to your mind, body and spirit. Making sure to introduce your members to one another and other staff to make them feel welcome will go a long way in helping create their community. Get them involved in your different program offerings and they will no doubt find what is right for them.