MAKE MENTAL HEALTH MATTER
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and 17% of U.S. youth experience a mental health disorder.*
*Data from CDC, NIMH and other select sources.
And no matter what age, the majority of the population is impacted by mental health challenges in some capacity. Mental health researchers have identified exercise as one of the best strategies to reduce common symptoms. We can help you promote the positive effects of exercise on mental wellbeing using relevant data, real-life stories and visual resources to cultivate a welcoming environment that positions activity and self-care as a priority. Let’s unite to uplift the importance of movement for the improved health of body and mind.
Mental Health Content Library
As a part of our celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, we've compiled a library of related presentations, webinars and articles to emphasize the positive relationship between exercise and mental health, plus how fitness professionals can help to build awareness.
When the imagery and signage at your facility include reminders of how exercise improves mood, gym visits are more closely associated with mental health benefits. Qualitative interviews reflect this shift in how we perceive the gym. It’s now less associated with achieving a beach body. Instead, it’s a place to “blow off some steam,” “hit the mood reset button” and “find my happiness.”
Download the print and digital packages we've created with inspirational messaging and imagery to help you get started!
"Representative imagery and diverse marketing imagery, including photos of different ethnicities, ages, and body types, can signal a welcoming environment, foster connections and support positive and empowering messages."
- Supporting Mental Health & Well-being: A Toolkit for Health & Fitness Centers, IHRSA Foundation
We received input from Matrix Master Trainers, employees, partners, Sprint 8 enthusiasts and volunteers who shared their stories in 1-minute presentations to emphasize the importance of exercise in their own mental health journey.
How have your exercise habits impacted your mental health?
If you’d like to share your own story, please upload!
- Becky J.
- Rebecca C.
- Brooke R.
- Audrey L.
“Getting into a regular habit of going to the gym has definitely improved my mental health. Aside from the workouts alleviating my depression, attending classes at my gym has provided much-needed socialization. I look forward to going as opposed to dreading it!”
- Sara S.
"I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder at the age of eight. All throughout grade school and middle school I saw a psychologist and was even prescribed medication to help me cope. Then one day I put on leggings and running shoes, and my life changed. I only ran for 15 minutes, but my mind felt so free and clear. To my surprise, I did not leave it there. I ran again the next day, and the day after that. I have been running now for 15 years and have even transitioned to being a triathlete. When I am anxious, it doesn’t just affect my brain, the rest of my body feels the impact too. Exercising diverts me from the very thing I may be anxious about and allows me to decompress. The benefits of exercise extend beyond my physical wellbeing. My mental well-being has improved as well, and I am able to cope with my anxiety disorder much better than I was able to before starting my running career."
- Katya W.
"I’m someone who has had difficulty sleeping and shaking off both the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. Working out on a consistent schedule has helped me tremendously with my sleep, which then improves my anxiety and the fatigue that comes from the demands of my schedule.
Setting aside time to exercise has also helped ground myself mentally and provide a time that I can decompress about anything that might be on my mind. This is particularly helpful when so many thoughts occupy the brain space and become an overwhelming force of my day. While I recognize that it isn’t the cure-all, I can’t deny that I’ve been feeling mentally sharper, happier, and more refreshed because of this small change in my life."
- Murphy K.
“My lifetime exercise habit, and my life, have both been filled with highs and lows. There are always things in life that happen which you can’t control and generally drags your mental health down. Exercise has always been the one thing I can control. It doesn’t mean exercising is always easy, but I’ve never felt like exercise was a bad decision. Even on a bad day, choosing to exercise is something positive, and sometimes that’s just enough to feel better.”
- Eric V.
"As someone that suffers from seasonal affective disorder during the winter months, I know how important it is to make exercise part of my daily routine. I find that when I don’t exercise, those gloomy winter days really have an affect on me. Exercise helps me continue to live life and enjoy my day with a positive outlook. I routinely get my workout in before I start anything else for the day. On the days that I don’t, I feel added stress because it’s just one more thing I need to fit into an already busy time. Exercise helps me show up for my family/friends and especially myself in a much more positive way! When you physically feel better, you think better and perform better!"
- Michelle W.
Our goals to emphasize the impact of exercise on mental health are aligned with other industry leaders. We’ve partnered with them to advance research, spread awareness and ultimately support comprehensive wellness programs that include fitness-related practices!