Fitness is a good remedy for mental health



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Jake Steinfeld, President and CEO of Body By Jake, is President of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils. To learn more about DON’T QUIT! countryside, visit

We know all too well the physical effects COVID-19 has had around the world, including a growing number of deaths and a negative impact on the economy, but there is also an alarming invisible phenomenon that is also happening – A growing toll on our mental health.

The pandemic has led to an increase in depression, anxiety, drug addiction and suicidal ideation. In fact, several surveys, including those by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Foundation, have found that 40% of American adults reported having had mental health and / or addiction issues in the past. last part of June 2020 only.

And, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine, one in four Mainers is affected by mental health, and the pandemic has only exacerbated conditions, including clinical depression. Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, Governor Janet Mills’ biennial 2022-2023 budget allocated an additional $ 7.5 million for community mental health services.

Not only are adults struggling, but the pandemic is having a negative effect on our children as well. I have been advocating for the benefits of physical activity for over 40 years now, generally as a way to fight obesity. However, during this unprecedented time, exercise is needed more than ever. Not only will this help our kids get in shape, it will help them improve their mental health, behavior, and school performance.

To that end, my organization, the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) has partnered with Mills and selected the State of Maine for our 2021 DON’T QUIT! Campaign. The NFGFC will provide a state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT program! Fitness center at three elementary or middle schools in Maine. Applications for schools will be accepted until Friday March 19. Visit, then click on your state seal to download the short application. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, nominate your school today!

I have witnessed the positive impact of fitness centers on students and their communities. When you provide schools with the tools and inspiration, you will be amazed at the changes that take place. Now, schools in Maine have the opportunity to make a change that will have a lasting impact on children in their future.

Building a solid foundation for physical activity at a young age will put our children on an upward spiral of success and lay the foundation for them to grow into strong, healthy adults. In my personal experience, I have found that when children build healthier and stronger bodies, they also gain confidence, self-esteem, and their mentality improves a lot. Years of research back it up as well. Low-intensity exercise has been shown to improve brain function and help people feel better, while high-intensity exercise three to four times a week can reduce clinical depression.

While three schools in the state will be offered a new DON’T QUIT! Fitness center, there are still many activities our children can do at home with their family members, such as push-ups, sit-ups and show jumps. Or they can use a variety of items around the house such as towels for resistance training, a chair for tricep dips, or soup cans or milk cartons for full body exercises. If you have stairs, go up and down them to increase your heart rate. To make the exercise even more fun for your kids, join them, it’s really fun!

And if you have the chance, go for a jog, hike or bike ride or just take a family walk around the neighborhood. Moderate exercise is really helpful and very rewarding both physically and mentally.

Ultimately, we have a lot of time at home these days and we have all had to make major adjustments in our lives. Introducing physical activity that the whole family can participate in is just a good remedy. It will help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your mental fitness, and ultimately enrich your quality of life. DON’T stop on your family!



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