Our CEO, Jessica Cruz, has an op-ed in Capitol Weekly, Exercise Key to Fight COVID-19’s Toll on Mental, Behavioral Health.
The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on public health, a toll that extends well beyond those who have been infected by the virus.
Nearly all of us have experienced or witnessed the effects: increased stress, heightened anxiety, at least a bit of depression. These conditions are to be expected given the isolation and disruption of our daily lives.
These are conditions to be expected – but not to be ignored.
A survey conducted for the Centers for Disease Control in late June found that 40 percent of U.S. adults reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition related to the pandemic, including anxiety or depressive disorders, substance abuse to cope with stress, and even suicide ideation.
Three or more periods of movement per week of aerobic exercise or resistance training for 45- to 60-minutes each can effectively treat depression, even chronic depression.
As we continue to confront the threat to our physical health posed by this new contagion, we must simultaneously acknowledge and confront the severe mental health threat associated with living in the time of COVID-19.
Public policy during these challenging times must seek to limit the spread of this highly contagious disease, but it must also address the pandemic’s profound effects on mental health.
It is well established that physical activity, fitness, is essential to maintain good mental health, and that a regimen of exercise is an effective treatment for a range of mental illnesses including mild to moderate depression.
The reason is that exercise triggers an array of biological events that produce myriad health benefits – for your heart and muscles, to be sure, but also for your brain.
Low-intensity exercise, regularly repeated, spurs the release of certain proteins that cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections in the area of the brain, called the hippocampus, that helps regulate mood. The improved brain function simply makes people feel better.