HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – In Holyoke Thursday evening, it was all about promoting mental wellness through physical fitness, on this Mental Health Action Day.

Mental Health Awareness Month has taken center stage in western Massachusetts. This group getting in on the action, using Zumba as a way to not only support their physical health but also elevate their mental well-being.

The Center for Human Development (CHD) hosting the event to showcase that physical activity and socialization play a huge role in making this happen. CHD Marketing and Community Engagement Manager Lisa Brecher told 22News, “We all really deal with mental health issues one way or another, some more severe than others, but I think if we have an open conversation and we start to talk openly about it and if we come out to events like this and raise awareness, then people will be more than likely to get help.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. Studies also show regular amounts of exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety, lower stress, and improve mood. An instructor says this is done by changing the way the brain functions and creating an emotional balance.

April McClure, a Certified Zumba Instructor and Owner of Get Movin’ Fitness in South Hadley said, “It gets us thinking clear, pushes all of our happy buttons, it gets our endorphins going, and people just love that, and it’s a natural high energy.”

The Mental Health Foundation says adults who exercise every day have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of depression and dementia. Participants hope that events like this can help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and instead promote a sense of community and support.