By Kari Haugen, Director of Workforce Partnerships.
The connection between physical health and mental health is a fundamental aspect of overall well-being. Numerous studies have highlighted the connection between physical and mental health, emphasizing how they influence and impact each other. This relationship has significant implications for various aspects of life, including workforce engagement, preparedness, and the persistent wealth gap that limits young adults from accessing physical activity.
When working with job seekers, specifically young adults, we talk about workforce readiness and all the things that go into it, like interview and resume preparation, but what about physical health? If young adults are not engaged in physical readiness, they may not be prepared to enter the workforce. They may not be physically or mentally able to complete work experience opportunities and move into employment.
In the context of workforce engagement, physical health plays a vital role. Engaging in regular physical activity has been linked to increased energy levels, improved cognitive function, and enhanced productivity. When individuals are physically healthy, they tend to have higher levels of stamina, focus, and motivation, enabling them to perform better in their professional endeavors. Moreover, physical activity has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, leading to improved mental well-being. This, in turn, can positively impact an individual’s job satisfaction, work performance, and overall career trajectory.
However, the wealth gap that persists in society often excludes young adults from accessing physical activity and can hinder their overall well-being. Economic disparities can limit opportunities for physical fitness, such as the availability of safe recreational spaces, access to sports facilities, or the means to afford gym memberships or equipment. In Pierce County, many of our youth, especially those in the BIPOC community, don’t have access to safe spaces for physical activity. A walkable neighborhood is a privilege. Being active is not free; you have to be able to get access to it. This lack of access to physical activity can have adverse consequences on the physical and mental health of young adults.
To address these challenges, it is crucial to promote equitable access to physical activity for all young adults, regardless of socioeconomic status. This requires implementing policies and initiatives that ensure affordable and inclusive opportunities for exercise, recreation, and sports participation. One way to do this is by providing gym memberships for our young adult job seekers while they are enrolled in Work Experiences or other programs. By prioritizing both physical and mental health, we can empower young adults to thrive in all aspects of their lives.
Kari Haugen is Director of Workforce Partnerships for WorkForce Central. She manages the young adult program through the WorkSource Pierce network.