NAPLES, Fla. — March is Women's History Month, and studies show exercise can improve a woman's mental health, maybe even more than men's.
Rachael Jensen is an Office Assistant at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, where Max Flex Fitness offers workout classes for employees every day. She said she works out 4-5 days per week.
"A lot of strength training, HIIT. But I also do cardio, so running and spin, too," she said. “I work out with my coworkers. And it's so nice because we motivate each other. Like if I don't want to work out one day, my friend's like 'Hey, come on, we're going together. We're gonna get this done.'”
She said she's motivated by the physical health benefits, but said exercise also helps with her mental health.
"I find when I don't exercise as much, I just get more tired and kind of beaten down. But when I exercise, it gives you endorphins. And I feel like it really does help mentally prepare for the day and everything that goes on," Jensen said.
Coach Nino Magaddino, the Owner of Max Flex Fitness, said Jensen is right.
“When you get your oxygen up, your heart rate going, you increase endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, that will last two to three days in your mind," Magaddino said.
"It's a great high. You just feel so happy and energized. You're like, I'm going to go out there and I can do it all. It's just such a great feeling," Jensen said.
A study from Binghamton University found that women's mental health was more likely to be affected by physical exercise frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to men.
"Stress can really weigh on you. And stress is America's number one killer," Magaddino said. “Women tend to carry stress a little bit more on their shoulders. They carry the weight of the family on their shoulders.”
He said he sees it in his clients every day, and that working out helps them carry that weight.
“They have a lot going on, they're running kids around. But when they leave the workout, they're happy, they're ready to go home, they're ready help take care of their families, or they're ready to go to work. It just helps with our overall sense of well being," he said.
Jensen said exercise helps her fight off feelings of depresion and anxiety.
"Once I workout, I just feel so much better every single time I workout, which is why I keep working out," she said.
Magaddino said you don't have to spend 3 hours at the gym to get results; just 15 minutes of movement a day can make a difference.
Max Flex Fitness works with the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health, a Your Healthy Family partner, to help its patients with exercise.