Tamera Mowry-Housley Says Zumba Has Boosted Her Mental and Physical Health During the Pandemic

courtesy Tamera Mowry-Housley

Tamera Mowry-Housley says that exercising amid the coronavirus pandemic has made her feel so much better — and not just physically.

“Exercise and moving my body really helped me mentally once the pandemic was upon us,” says Mowry-Housley, 42, who is teaming up with Zumba to encourage everyone to make time for a mental and physical break – a Zumba Break – ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday. 

Explaining that she has been dealing with “a lot of stress and anxiety” during the health crisis, the actress says that staying fit has boosted her mental health.

“When we all had to be quarantined for so long, I really discovered the importance of diving back into exercising now that I had the time,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.

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courtesy Tamera Mowry-Housley Tamera Mowry-Housley in a Zuma Class

Mowry-Housley, who has two kids — daughter Ariah Talea, 5, and son Aden John Tanner, 7, with husband Adam Housley — decided not to take any of her newfound time for granted.

“I’m a huge believer in making lemonade out of lemons, so I wanted to use the time wisely,” she says. “I discovered that when I worked out and when I moved my body, I felt better. I felt better about myself — not only physically but mentally.”

Through Zumba, which Mowry-Housley says she’s enjoyed for 10 years, the actress has managed to stay fit.

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The Sister, Sister star says Zumba has long been a favorite of hers because the dance program keeps her engaged.

“What I love about Zumba is that, for me, I can get bored really quickly with an exercise routine regimen. So doing Zumba, it’s kind of like a sneaky workout,” she says. “It’s dance, it’s fun.”

“The moment you hear the music, you hear the beats, you hear the drums, you can’t help but to move your hips a bit,” she adds. “You feel good, you feel uplifted and it gives you the energy that you need to have throughout the day.”

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But Mowry-Housley knows that workouts are only one component of mental health, which is why she encourages people who are truly having issues to seek help — and to not be afraid to talk about their mental state.

“If you’re really struggling, it’s okay to talk about it,” she says. “You are not weak, you’re actually the opposite. You are strong.”

She adds: “Don’t believe that negative voice that this is something that you have to keep inside. Talk to someone that you trust and make sure you have a support group that is going to be there for you.”

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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