Medical Moment: Harnessing your inner fitness

Martie Salt investigates how working on your inner fitness can increase your physical health.
Martie Salt investigates how working on your inner fitness can increase your physical health.(WNDU)
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Americans are always searching for ways to lose weight and get healthy. But what if the key to success isn’t challenging your body but relaxing your mind?

Running, biking, and lifting are all great ways to stay in shape.

But research shows inner fitness may also be an important part of good health.

It involves focusing energy on your emotional well-being rather than performing a physical exercise or following a diet. Simply monitoring how you talk to yourself is one way to improve your inner fitness.

“Negative self-talk is a problem every day and on a daily basis because it shapes our identity,” said David Baker, PhD, a psychotherapist. “It becomes who we are.”

If you struggle with negative self-talk, try replacing negative thoughts with reasonable ones. But first, identify the harmful voice that’s speaking to you.

“We don’t just want to replace it, we want to ask: ‘why are you here?’” Dr. Baker said.

Mindfulness meditation is another way to improve your inner fitness.

Studies show it can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce chronic pain, and lower the risk of anxiety. Mindful eating which involves tracking your feelings and habits around food can help you lose weight and keep it off. And yoga, which uses movement, breathing, and meditation, has been shown to reduce stress, improve flexibility, boost immunity, and lessen anxiety.

Technology has opened doors in mental health support and data collection.

Mobile devices like cell phones, smartphones, and tablets are giving the public, doctors, and researchers new ways to access help, monitor progress, and increase understanding of mental wellbeing. The downside is that this new technology includes a lot of uncertainty such as little industry regulation and little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.

Creative research and engineering teams are combining their skills to address a wide range of mental health concerns.

Some popular areas of app development include self-management, improving thinking skills, skill training, illness management, passive symptom tracking, and data collection.

Researchers have found that interventions are most effective when people like them, are engaged, and want to continue using them. Behavioral health apps will need to combine the engineers’ skills for making an app easy to use and entertaining with the clinician’s skills for providing effective treatment options.

While the apps are becoming more appealing and user-friendly, there still isn’t a lot of information on their effectiveness.

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