An empty fitness center. Photo via Pixabay

By Alan and Justin Glaser

Our family has enjoyed working out together for many years. It keeps us motivated and healthy, both physically and mentally.

My son Justin, suffers from depression and anxiety. His mental health depends on his ability to work out as part of his therapy.

I witnessed a horrifying decline in his mental state earlier this year when the fitness centers first shut down for a long period of time. It was so hard for him, and even harder for me as his parent to sit back and be unable to provide him with the safe place he needed to continue his therapy.

How many other parents are out there watching their children struggle and unable to do anything for them?

53% of adults in the US have reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to coronavirus.

In many parts of the state, deaths from drug overdoses are surpassing deaths from COVID-19. San Francisco recently reported that they have had 621 deaths due to overdoses this year, surpassing the 173 people that have died from Coronavirus there.

Anxiety and depression are skyrocketing throughout our country. Monthly calls to a suicide prevention crisis hotline which serves much of the state, almost doubled this year compared to a year earlier. One of the most devastating statistics I read recently was that one in four young adults have contemplated suicide during this pandemic.

Our children are suffering, they are isolated, and their mental health is declining, especially those who already struggled severely before lockdowns.

Physical activity has long-term physical and mental health benefits, including reducing the risk of stress and depression. Numerous studies show that exercise reduces anxiety and can be as effective as psychotherapy for treating mild to moderate depression.

Justin knows and understands this firsthand. It’s a key part of his therapy every day. Working out and exercise in his fitness center provides him with treatment for his depression, keeps him focused and confident instead of being anxious.

Fitness centers that follow strict guidelines and health protocols should be allowed to be open with a limited capacity just like they did earlier this year when they were briefly open.

We do not want to get sick or get others sick, so we are ready and willing to follow all requirements to be able to go in person to our indoor fitness location.

I have been watching as countless other states like New York have reopened their fitness centers after putting the proper protocols in place. Why can’t Governor Newsom do that here too? Now is the time to get the proper protocols in place so we can start the new year off on the right foot. This is a month where people really focus on their health and resolutions for the year. We need a safe outlet for people to maintain their health and wellness.

I know that my son will not get better in the long-term without being able to exercise in his fitness center with his equipment. And advocating for change is the best thing I can do for my son, his mental health, and his physical health.

Please reopen fitness centers across the state, Governor Newsom. It is a critical step forward in helping people improve their health.

Alan and Justin Glaser are residents of Carlsbad. 

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