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Digital Community is Vital to Mental Health

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Mike Leveque, the CEO of Americas at Myzone, shares how cultivating a digital community is vital for your members’ mental health.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has highlighted, it is the importance of social connection. People thrive on social contact, but months of public health measures such as social distancing, shielding and lockdown imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, has left people feeling lonely and isolated.

Recent research has found that adults who are young, living alone, on low incomes or out of work are most at risk of feeling lonely. Without intervention, these feelings can impact people’s mental health over time storing up expensive public health problems for the future.

Evidence shows that loneliness and social isolation leads to higher rates of premature death comparable to deaths associated with smoking and alcohol consumption.

There is a huge opportunity for the fitness industry to step up and keep people as connected as possible during this crisis through physical activity. It’s something the sector has always done through its clubs and centers, but with so many facilities closed due to the pandemic, operators must now look to digital offerings to create a digital community.

Online fitness is a unique way of bringing people together and helping them to stay connected to alleviate feelings of loneliness. The online experience allows people to interact with friends, family and others in a safe, positive and supportive environment. They can enjoy the camaraderie of working out as a group, while benefiting from support and encouragement from gym staff. And operators can keep that vital social connection going between sessions by messaging their members, commenting on their home workouts and encouraging them to take part in virtual challenges and competitions.

Now is the time for the fitness industry to play an even greater role in public health. The scale of this pandemic is unprecedented and its impact is far reaching. As important community assets, clubs and centers can use their knowledge and expertise to meet both the physical and mental health needs of their members as well as others.

By keeping people socially connected through online training, operators can support and protect their members. In doing so, they can build resilience in their communities, helping them to survive and thrive during this ongoing crisis.

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Mike Leveque

Mike Leveque is CEO of Americas at Myzone. He can be reached at Mike.Leveque@myzone.org or visit myzone.org.

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