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Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Three decades of science clarify that exercise is key to our mental wellness. Yet, our mental health is at an all-time low. Depression is now an everyday reality for more than half of the US population. Anxiety is through the roof thanks to COVID-19, and suicide rates are up a staggering 35%. There is no longer any doubt that mental illness is an epidemic in the United States and worldwide.

By Chris Martin

The evidence shows that our thinking patterns and behaviors change our neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. In addition, almost all of the published research between 1990 and 2020 found a positive, statistically significant relationship between exercise and mental health.

However, a seemingly simple solution of reducing our sedentary lifestyle and increasing our movement is a challenge. The same symptoms that exercise and physical activity can help improve, such as depression, anxiety, lethargy, and impairments in functioning, are also barriers to exercise and physical activity. But multiple clinical trials indicate that introducing exercise and physical activity in early intervention and treatment for mental health conditions is feasible and effective, particularly in supervised group activities or when paired with personal training.

What we do, is less important than simply getting moving. Whether pumping iron is your thing, hitting the treadmill, strengthening your core with yoga or tai chi, or simply going for a walk, motion is indisputably associated with mental health benefits.

Mental Health Outcomes Most Impacted by Exercise?

Approximately 89% of all published peer-reviewed research reports a positive, statistically significant relationship between exercise/ physical activity and mental health.

• Exercise is strongly associated with general mental and emotional well-being, including reduced stress and improved mood and quality of life.

• Evidence strongly supports cardiovascular aerobic exercise for reducing depression and reducing symptoms in people with anxiety disorders.

• Exercise, mainly cardio, improves motor skills and executive function for children and adults with ADHD.

• Yoga and other mindful exercises such as Tai Chi and Qigong show strong evidence for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

• Exercise can be a proactive way to release tension, reduce feelings of fear and worry, and decrease the frequency of people suffering from panic attacks.

Health and fitness centers have a crucial role in mental health promotion.

"Gym membership at O2 Fitness has been on the rise, but more importantly, it has given in a new perspective post-COVID," explains VP Marketing, O2 Fitness, Cooper Elias. "Both members and staff at our clubs are prioritizing their overall wellness and investing in it. Rather than viewing gym membership or personal training as another thing to do and another bill to pay, it has become a life-giving opportunity and investment into our futures. Post-COVID, we are seeing lives changed in our clubs like never before."

Besides providing space and equipment for physical activity, fitness centers like O2 also offer crucial components of mental well-being: a sense of community and social interaction.

"Fitness centers provide opportunities for people to socialize, find belonging and support, and increase our sense of community as we build relationships. Regular workout programs with a workout partner or personal trainer through offerings such as personal or small group training, group exercise classes, sports and competition, and special events provide boosted self-confidence, motivation, productivity, and decreases depression in our day-to-day life," says Elias.

Through social media and their relationship with their members, fitness centers also have the opportunity and means to provide meaningful education about mental health and well-being and the benefits of physical activity and other factors like nutrition, sleep, and stress management.

"We offer a multitude of amenities that target overall wellness. Studio Fitness Classes provide workouts that can be done at one's own pace while providing community and building relationships with others in the class. Small group training provides a similar benefit but on a smaller, more customized, and personalized scale. One-on-one personal training provides accountability and accelerated growth. We also offer childcare, free personal training clinics, physiotherapy, nutritional amenities, recovery tools, and more. All these amenities provide sufficient care for all of your health and wellness needs," says Elias.

How Does O2 Fitness Work?

Once you have become a member at O2 Fitness, you will receive two complimentary sessions with a personal trainer. Then it's time to create the combination of your choice. You have the option to do two different session types or two of the same. Regardless of what you decide, the team is here to help you accomplish actual results on your fitness journey.

Program Design

Meet with a high-level fitness professional to discuss your goals, overcome obstacles and design a strategic fitness and wellness program tailored to your lifestyle and needs. It's an excellent introduction to your fitness journey.


Get a complete workout in 60 minutes that utilizes innovative training with strength-based movement. Choose any of the following workouts:

+ HIIT + Strength

+ Athletic + Circuit Training

+ Cardio + Core

+ Functional Training + Equipment Orientation

Recovery Session

Utilize vibration, percussion, and stretch therapy to relieve tightness and soreness so you can perform better. A Recovery Session can be the perfect warm-up before an intense workout to get your body prepped and ready to work. It can also serve as a guided cool down to help transition your body into a resting state after your workout.

What is an O2 "Signature Location"?

A signature location is designed to be your new fitness sanctuary by bringing a bigger, bolder, and better fitness experience. In addition to being filled with new equipment, new turf areas, and new recovery spaces complete with padded floors and hydrotherapy massage beds, an O2 Fitness Signature will deliver a top-of-the-line atmosphere with upscale amenities. Lockers featuring mobile device charging stations, steam rooms, saunas, and a welcoming lounge area will ensure your experience is as comfortable as possible. In addition, these signature locations ensure that your little ones receive the VIP treatment as well by providing an oversized indoor playground, climbing area, and fun youth fitness programming in our Kids Club.

Official Wilmington Locations:


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