Physical and mental wellbeing are equally important and often linked as many people participate in activities that improve both categories of health at the same time. However, the everyday demands of life, coupled with challenges during the pandemic, have meant that people have reduced their physical and mental wellbeing.
“There is a symbiotic relationship between mental and physical well-being,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th United States Surgeon General. “Supporting both critical aspects of health is equally important, but it can be difficult, especially during stressful times like the current pandemic. It is extremely important for people to look for alternative ways to focus on the mind and body and take active steps toward the overall goal. “Wellness.”
A recent national study by Planet Fitness in the US shows the negative effects of the pandemic on mental and physical health. Three in four Americans (77%) said at least one aspect of their general health and well-being was negatively affected by the pandemic. A whopping 56% (nearly 138 million Americans) said they didn’t make their mental wellbeing a priority over the past year, while the same percentage of the population has to admit that they experience stress and anxiety more than ever. But luckily, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: 92% of Americans whose mental well-being has been affected by the pandemic report that they do at least one thing to improve them.
While it is the results, the good news is that the vast majority of people are trying to improve their current condition as the pandemic puts the spotlight on the importance of fitness. Staying active will help everyone get on the right track and feel great both physically and mentally, while reducing stress at the same time. When you exercise, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which is commonly referred to as the “feel good chemical” because of its ability to contribute to your happiness and positive mental disposition.
Here are three ways to improve an existing exercise program or simply add it to a new one, all of which are designed to improve your mental and physical wellbeing:
1) A stimulated mind is a happy one
Variety is the spice of life and that can be difficult when you’re stuck at home. To keep your mind busy and your body active, try incorporating fun, ready-to-use elements into your normal fitness routine. That could mean downloading a fitness app full of exercises, walking in a new neighborhood park, or if you are able to, joining a gym and starting a new fitness adventure with free guidance from a certified trainer.
2) Slowly and steadily winning the gym race
It’s best to start slowly and finish strong when exercising, especially with weights or resistance equipment. If you walk easily, you can still put positive strain on the muscles while perfecting the form and mechanics of each exercise. This will ultimately create a better environment for muscle growth without putting too much strain on the body.
3) Rest “actively”
Include so-called “active rest periods” during your cardio training or between weight lifting sets. For example, if you are jogging on an incline on the treadmill, decrease the incline or slow down to a quick walk to catch your breath before accelerating again. If you do this instead of stopping altogether, you keep your body working and the blood flowing and making your muscles recover faster.