Guest Post: The Social and Emotional Benefits of Gym Time
Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2014 |
Today’s post was written for Gymco by Kristeen Cherney and provided by HealthLine. Find out more about Kristeen below!
Beyond Physical Health: Exploring the Social and Emotional Benefits of Gym Time
One of the most common goals is to spend more time in the gym. As obesity rates remain high among American children, more parents are understandably encouraging their kids to move more. There’s no doubt that a child’s overall physical health depends on regular exercise. However, regular gym time can also lead to a host of other surprising health benefits. This includes better social and emotional health. Such benefits are more apparent than the physical results of gym time, and are critical to overall childhood development.
Social Interaction at the Gym
As a parent, you want to make sure your child has the best health possible. Not only does this require nutrition and exercise, but it’s also important to meet your child’s social needs. Given time constraints, it can be challenging to meet all of these needs at the same time. Enrolling your child into a kid-friendly gym program can help improve your child’s physical health, as well as his or her social skills. Furthermore, healthy competition between peers can inspire your child to use effort and get the most out of each session.
For some children, gym time is the only source of social interaction they have access to outside of school and home. If your children fall into this category, consider how going to the gym can help them expand their social lives in a healthy way. This is far more beneficial than watching television or playing computer games as a group or activities that don’t necessarily require human interaction.
Emotional Health and Your Gym
While obesity is still a problem in the United States, the rate of anxiety and depression are also increasing. It is a misconception that such disorders are exclusive to stressed-out adults. Sadly, mental health professionals are also seeing an increase in pediatric patients. While many factors can cause these disorders, a sedentary lifestyle can certainly increase the risk.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise may provide some real relief for related mental health disorders. When you work out, your brain releases feel-good endorphins that immediately improve your mood. Such effects can help combat occasional bouts of stress and even ongoing anxiety. Even short gym visits can improve your mood, thereby combatting depression. The ADAA reports that individuals who work out regularly have a 25-percent less risk of developing anxiety or depression in a five-year timeframe.
It’s important to note that avoiding anxiety and depression through exercise doesn’t require you to live at the gym. Even one workout per day can have lasting impacts on your emotional health. Children will likely feel better after the first five minutes of exercise. Mood can also be improved by including activity into a child’s daily routine every two hours.
Even the biggest introverts can benefit socially from going to the gym. Simply being with others and engaging in conversation can be an additional reward on top of all of the physical exertion. Just make sure your child keeps socialization healthy at the gym; it can be easy to lose track and stand around and talk instead of working out. Encourage your child to bring the focus back to the workout while engaging with friends at the same time.
If your child seems increasingly anxious or depressed despite engaging in a regular exercise program, it’s important that you talk to a doctor right away. While exercise can certainly help symptoms of various mental health disorders, it is not necessarily a cure-all. Developing a broad treatment plan will help your child feel better—and perhaps even ensure your child doesn’t skip out on those much-needed gym sessions.
- Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
- Kids and Exercise. (2012, February). Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/staying_fit/exercise.html
- Weir, Kirsten. (2011, December). The exercise effect. American Psychological Association, 42 (11). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx
Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and cultural studies. When she’s not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.