California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an advisory council Wednesday to promote the general well-being of Californians by fostering a healthy relationship between youth and physical exercise.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Mental Well-Being will primarily focus on developing Californians’ physical and emotional health across age groups, with a specific emphasis on children.
“It’s another opportunity to elevate the importance of physical activity and its impact on our emotional and mental well-being,” said Cori Evans, manager of the Be Well At Work – Wellness Program, one of the several health centers on campus for UC Berkeley faculty and staff, in an email. “Whether or not Californians will see this as moving in the right direction and/or addressing the emotional trauma, loss and fears created by the pandemic remains to be seen.”
First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott will jointly lead the council, which will be composed of representatives with backgrounds in health and wellness organizations, education and more, the press release added.
According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, although the benefits of engaging in physical activity include a reduced risk of depression and improved cognitive function, only 20% of adolescents obtain at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
“If you take care of the body … and you begin to develop a way of working in the body that allows it to be more resilient when a stressful thing happens, you have more buoyancy,” said Saraswati Clere, owner of the Berkeley-based yoga studio Yoga Kula.
She noted that yoga can be a beneficial practice for those struggling to overcome trauma.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the youth’s physical and emotional health in California, the press release said.
According to Inbal Meron, assistant studio manager of Adeline Yoga, the studio saw an increase in students who were interested in exploring yoga during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got so many beautiful emails and testimonials from people who are so thankful to have yoga during this time,” Meron said.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Evans recognized the fortitude demonstrated by faculty and staff at UC Berkeley.
She noted the various resources available for staff members seeking to maintain their health.
“It has been 15 long months since shelter in place and from what I have identified, faculty (and staff) have shown to be resilient and have found new ways to remain mentally and physically well by engaging in such offerings as: online workshops offered through Be Well at Work, Rec Sports, the Greater Good Science Center and the list goes on,” Evans said in an email.