I really dislike the beginning of a run. I’m either too hot or too cold, I struggle to find my pace, and it seems like every joint in my body suddenly decides to rebel. After about the first mile, though, comes the high. My feet and breath find a steady rhythm, and I suddenly feel like I could run forever. What I love most about running, though, is how it gives me space to connect with myself. Jordyn Woods’ comments about exercise and mental health show that, like me, she also loves the emotional release that working out offers, and I’m so here for that mindset as 2019 approaches.
In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Woods described how, for her personally, exercise is deeply connected with mental health. "For me, working out wasn’t to ever look a certain way, it was for my physical health but more importantly, my mental health," she explained in the interview. "I feel like mental health is not something people are vocal enough about, but it’s something that everyone struggles with."
She’s right, BTW: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it’s estimated that one in five adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness in a given year, and only 41 percent of those people will receive proper mental health care services. Although exercise alone is not a "cure" for a mental health problem, research certainly suggests that it can be a major tool for helping your mind get to a better place. A recent study in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, for example, looked at the relationship between exercise and mental health in 1.2 million adults, and according to the results, between 2011 and 2015, researchers saw an average 43.2 percent reduction in poor mental health days in participants who stuck to a regular workout routine — which is definitely no small change. And that’s exactly Woods’ point.
In addition to boosting her overall mental well-being, Woods told Teen Vogue that finding an exercise routine that fit her lifestyle helped her work through especially hard times in her life. For one thing, she told the outlet, exercise became a way to process her emotions around losing her dad. "I found this trainer and I ended up starting to workout [frequently], and I realized that was my therapy," Woods explained. "That was the way that I dealt with the things that were going on."
Woods’ exercise journey has also helped her promote body positivity through the launch of her size-inclusive activewear line, SECNDNTURE, which offers clothing in sizes XS to 2X. "I want to create clothing that makes everyone feel comfortable and kind of feels like a second skin," she told Teen Vogue. "I feel like it’s hard, especially as a curvier girl, to find leggings that aren’t see through and that are supportive and good quality." As she told the publication, body positivity, to her, means caring for herself and loving herself, regardless of what anybody else thinks of her.
Even for someone like me, who isn’t a major celebrity with millions of followers on social media, it can be easy to let what other people think of you affect you, especially when it comes to body image issues. But even though Woods has received more than her fair share of negative comments throughout her fitness journey, she told Teen Vogue, she keeps her focus solidly on what’s best for herself. "I push it away, other people’s opinions, because as long as I’m happy, it doesn’t really matter what anyone has to say," she said. "I’m the person in my skin. I’m the person in my own body."
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