By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Did you know that if you belonged to The Sporting Club last year, you are one in 50.2 million people? That is what the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced as the total US health club membership number in 2010, a figure more than 10% higher than the previous year. Fitness club membership is growing and for good reason. We all want to improve and maintain our physical and emotional health and well being.
Regardless of age, we all need to be reminded of the value of exercise, and several prominent national associations have joined together for a universal health care call to action under this month’s, “Exercise is Medicine” campaign. In an attempt to celebrate the health benefits of exercise, physicians are being encouraged to become “exercise advocates” and patients are urged to talk with their doctors about “exercise prescriptions.”
Interestingly, May is also “Mental Health Month,” sponsored by “Mental Health America,” a celebration founded over 60 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health.
The mind-body “oneness” that exists is not only in these coincidental (?) national May celebrations. You know, and research backs it up, that when you think well, you feel well, and when you are feeling well, you have a greater sense of happiness.
After all, unless you live under a well hidden pile of rocks with no WiFi access, most adults know that proper exercise is essential for the prevention, management and treatment of many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension and other medical and emotional problems.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that many docs, often out of shape themselves, are not educated enough to begin writing specific “exercise prescriptions,” assessing physical activity or going further than simply recommending more medically appropriate exercise. Instead of, “Ask your doctor if medicine x is right for you,” I suggest, “Ask your trainer which exercise is right for you.”
Most of us want our lives to be easier, healthier, happier, and we want to add increased longevity. Simply lifting weights or running on a treadmill won’t do it. Health, fitness and performance begin with a base of functional, tri-planar and integrated movement training, the type The Sporting Club’s GRAVITY trainers offer, among other types of core and functional training you see around the gym.
Moving from core and balance stabilizing exercises to movement training in order to avoid compromising balance, and then to more traditional resistance training for hypertrophy, strength or endurance, and then perhaps to sport specific training, is a traditional integrated approach recommended by the American Council on Exercise.
Cardio aerobic base training, then slowly adding increased duration, frequency and interval training for aerobic efficiency is the best preparation for training at high levels of cardio aerobic endurance.
Our club’s professionally educated personal trainers are well anchored in the healthiest prescriptive exercise programs, tailored to your unique health and fitness needs.
Where fitness psychology enters is on the emotional side. There is a well-known formula developed by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., pioneer of the Positive Psychology movement at the University of Pennsylvania. It is: “Pleasure + Engagement + Meaning = Happiness.” I would add, “+ Exercise.”
Here are the 10 tools “Mental Health America” suggests you use to enhance your emotional wellness. The overlap with the “Pleasure + engagement + meaning = happiness” formula is clear:
- Connect with others…people who feel connected are happier and healthier
- Stay positive…change your thinking and you change your feelings
- Get physically active…exercise definitely leads to a healthier and happier you
- Help others…serve others soup at a shelter instead of sipping your own martini
- Get enough sleep…being tired hurts your health and well-being
- Create joy and satisfaction…have a laugh, find a hobby, chill
- Eat well…the right foods fuel your mind, boost your mood and fight disease
- Take care of your spirit…prayer, meditation or just connecting deep inside of yourself enriches your life
- Deal better with hard times…write it out, talk it out, change your thinking, and get support
- 1Get professional help if you need it…don’t hesitate to seek professional help
So with May being “Exercise is Medicine” and “Mental Health” month, and research showing that exercise helps treat and prevent more than 40 chronic diseases including emotional upset, isn’t it time for a quick check-up with one of the club’s fitness health experts to see if you are doing all you can for your well-being?
Oh. One more point. May is also Family Wellness Month. Be sure you get your kids moving, active and healthy too, especially with physical fitness programming being cut in schools. Yep, our trainers can even help you design and implement a well-balanced family fitness program!