Helping Others Matters!
The Health Benefits of Helping Others
I became a fitness instructor for selfish reasons really. My wedding was coming up and I knew I might slack off on working out regularly so I could look good in my wedding photos. When my fitness guru, Robin Shean encouraged me to take an instructor training I happily did. Helping others ended up helping me.
I started in 1996 teaching muscle conditioning and step. It took a few years for me to find my confidence and gain knowledge. As a new instructor I was given the undesirable times. I realized I was onto something when I was able to build up a 6:00am class at the Foxboro YMCA from two people to 30. People started to come up to me after class and tell me what fun they had. Or they would gleefully share with me how many pounds they had lost, strength they gained or physical obstacle they overcame. This made me feel great and spurred me on to learn more and do more toward helping the people at my gym.
According to a study published earlier this year by researchers at Florida State University, helping others can make you happier and your life more meaningful.
This is not new information as research for decades has shown volunteerism to promote better physical and mental health. Giving time to help people in need has especially shown to lessen depression. One 2013 study in the BMC Public Health publication found helping others on a regular bases reduced early mortality rates by 22%. What would you do with a few more years added on your life?
I began contemplating the positive effects of helping others as I’ve started a new roll in influencing fitness of the body, mind and internal well being through yoga. Once again I enrolled in the Life Power Yoga Training to learn how to help my own ailments through yoga. But now I have found great fulfillment in helping others relax and find joy in the mindfulness of yoga.
I’ve been particularly drawn to Yin Yoga, which is a more meditative form where you hold shapes longer and focus on breathing. I’ve been preaching to all my clients and friends that they NEED to try this form of yoga as it will help them relax and aid their nagging aches and pains. I felt so strongly about it I was able to convince one of my supervisors to let me, a new yoga teacher start the first Yin Yoga class at the gym. The people who are usually shaking, jumping and hollering with me in the dance fitness class are now finding this hour following of Yin Yoga to be just as pleasurable.
For me, I’m receiving joy being able to share something so positive.
I’m not a very physical person and often flinch when someone attempts to greet me with a hug. Yet, in this class I feel comfortable touching my participants and helping them get into the proper shape to receive the full benefit. Often I am massaging or rubbing someone’s back reminding them to relax and breath. It is truly proving to be a rewarding and rapturous feeling.
Research has shown touching to strengthen social connections which like helping others leads to greater happiness and meaningfulness. But research has also shown human touch to lower blood pressures, lower stress, decrease violence, improve team dynamics, boost immunity and lead to overall wellbeing.
No wonder I feel such happiness teaching this class.
While I’m always encouraging readers to find a way to enjoy fitness and join the campaign #PartyMOVEment for their health and well being, I now highly recommend finding a way to give yourself and valuable time. If you can do it in a physically active way for both you and the ones you’re helping it’s got to be a double or triple bonus that will add years and meaning to your life. Always discuss new exercise with your doctor.
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