May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Observed in the U.S. since 1949, it raises awareness and increases understanding about mental health. More than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. With 2 in 5 consumers saying they exercise to support their mental health, there is a growing need for registered exercise professionals to address mental health with clients by:
1. Raising awareness about the linkage between physical activity and mental health.
Scientific research supports the mental health benefits of physical activity. In fact, 89% of all published peer-reviewed research between 1990 and 2020 found a positive relationship between physical activity and mental health. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans reported emerging evidence on the brain health benefits of physical activity, including improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, and improved sleep and quality of life.
2. Practicing active listening.
While exercise professionals can not make a mental health diagnosis or provide counseling services, they can use their active listening skills. By asking thoughtful questions and reflecting back the answers, they can build connection and trust, and provide emotional support.
3. Partnering with mental health professionals.
Exercise professionals can develop a referral network that includes mental health professionals. When a clients’ needs are beyond their scope of practice, they can refer clients to a trained professional; they can also receive referrals from mental health professionals.
Check out our registry to find a registered exercise professional near you.
Meet Josh Zaffino, a 20-year health & fitness industry veteran and the Training and Development Director for Arch Amenities Group.
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