Dr. Karlie Intlekofer, the global wellness researcher at Matrix Fitness shares how to help members reduce worry and combat anxiety through workouts.
The global prevalence of anxiety disorders has increased by about 25% since 2020, amounting to an additional 76 million cases. That’s why it’s never been more important for those of us in the fitness industry to speak up. Together, we can help anyone and everyone feel better one workout at a time.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health issues in the world. The main symptom of anxiety is excessive worry. While therapy and medications can be effective on their own, regular exercise continues to gain credence as a top lifestyle factor. Those who stick to a consistent workout routine show a reduced risk of developing anxiety, and those who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders can ease their symptoms by embracing exercise.
Reaching Those in Need
One of the challenges facing the fitness industry is to speak to those who feel overwhelmed by daily life in a language they can understand. After all, addressing their concerns is the first step in getting them into a fitness facility and getting them moving. To reach those with anxiety and make fitness facilities of all kinds more attractive to them, keep these key principles in mind:
Newcomers to fitness facilities may already be set up to fail if they don’t feel prepared for the exercise experience. This is where friendly staff can help by giving members an idea of what to expect and guiding their initial workouts. This may include suggesting which cardio equipment to use for their goals, challenging them to try something new or telling them about the offerings that make the facility special. Another way to ease new members into the exercise habit is to recommend personal trainers who can take the burden of decision-making off their shoulders.
Keep It Simple
One of the most common worries for those with anxiety disorders is whether they have the bandwidth to add more tasks to their already overwhelming daily lives. That’s why it’s so important to keep any exercise guidance as simple and straightforward as possible. The truth is that virtually all types of exercise promote clarity and calm, so helping members find any kind of enjoyable, pain-free movement is a success. Often simply encouraging members to appreciate what their bodies can do is enough to get them moving and keep them going.
Encourage Low Intensities
One thing most sedentary people are wrong about is that exercise has to hurt to get results. No pain, no gain, right? Fortunately, new research challenges this notion and shows that even low-intensity exercise can relieve anxiety. Sharing this with people suffering from anxiety will help them overcome their misconceptions about what it means to work out. Research demonstrates that consistency is more important than intensity, especially when those new to exercise are just forming their healthy new habit.
Help Them Fit it In
Moving the body in any way helps us think more clearly and avoid worrying, even when the workout is a short one. In fact, studies suggest that as little as 10 minutes of exercise can ease anxiety. While typical fitness facility members may not be inclined to engage in this kind of micro-workout, it will resonate with those suffering from anxiety to hear that every minute of exercise counts toward better mental health.
Workouts That Work
For anyone suffering from anxiety, getting started is half the battle. However, we can make it easier by showing them where to begin, keeping it simple and reminding them that even short, low-intensity workouts are a step in the direction of improved daily wellbeing. When it comes to making exercise a lasting part of their healthy lifestyle, it’s important to let them know that they can do it, and that all of us in the fitness industry are here to help.