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Exercising for Mental Health

In support of the goals of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, AAHP joins the effort to bring awareness to the challenges of minority mental health issues and to focus attention on an important component of mental health improvement: exercise. Mental health issues in minority communities are complex and the introduction of physical activity into the paradigm of improvement are new. Nevertheless, exercise has emerged as a viable, non-invasive solution to many mental health issues and is especially suited to the challenges faced by the Black community. 

Everyone can agree that exercise is good for the body. But exercise is not only an aerobic body and muscle builder, it is also a stress reliever, memory booster, sleep inducer and overall mood enhancer. Research has found that exercise can have a profoundly positive effect on depression, anxiety, ADHD and many other mental health issues. People who exercise often assert that it gives them a sense of well-being, increases their energy levels, sharpens their memory and make them feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. 

Many African Americans say they are unable to find time to exercise, or that it is too demanding. They feel that they are already overwhelmed with the problems of work, parenting, and societal challenges. They may feel their neighborhoods aren’t safe enough to exercise and gyms may be outside their financial means. However physical activity can be a lifestyle rather than a single task. Within one’s daily routine and around the house, there are ways in which physical activity can be included. Clean the house, wash the car, mow the lawn with a push mow, or sweep the sidewalk or patio with a broom. Run errands by foot or bicycle, take the stairs instead of the elevator, speed walk to the bus stop, get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way, park at the back of the lot when you shop, take a vigorous walk during your lunch or coffee break, dance in your room, or stretch while watching TV. Let’s get moving and stay moving!

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