Regular physical activity provides several long-term benefits that can help prevent and treat mental health disorders. Fitness professionals can support the mental and physical well-being of their clients by implementing some basic strategies that address their health from a 360-degree perspective.
1. What do they like to do?
Identify and encourage activities that best fit each client’s preferences and abilities. Aerobic, resistance and mind-body exercises and of light, moderate or vigorous intensity all benefit mental well-being. Greater enjoyment of the activity can be more mentally beneficial.
2. How confident are they?
Help identify activities that are in line with your client’s self-efficacy or confidence in their ability to take part. Then focus on incremental improvements toward mastering these activities. This can enhance adherence, enjoyment and overall mental wellness.
3. What are their barriers?
It can be challenging to engage in physical activity when having symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety. Discuss your client’s barriers to being active and provide strategies to help them continue to engage in activity.
4. What motivation do they need?
Increase the likelihood of adherence with regular follow up on progress to help motivate and encourage clients toward achieving goals.
5. Do they have social support?
Help your client identify avenues for social support. This can help with program adherence and provide mental health benefits through positive social interactions.
6. Can you take it outside?
Consider a training session outside or encourage outdoor activities. Time spent in nature and exercising outdoors can help relieve stress, increase energy and boost mood.
Learn more about physical activity for mental well-being and keep these six tactics handy by downloading this handout, developed exclusively for ACSM Certified Professionals, by ACSM's American Fitness Index®.
Download the Handout
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Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a member of the ACSM American Fitness Index Advisory Board. Her long-term career goal is to reduce the burden of chronic diseases through technology-assisted physical activity interventions that can be disseminated through clinicians and/or population level efforts.