According to recent statistics, around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year. Every week, 1 in 6 people in England are reporting a common mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.
The prevalence of depression is twice as high in women as it is in men. In fact, depression is becoming so frequent amongst 20-34 year-olds that it is now commonly called “the disease of the century”.
People struggling with depression often feel isolated and trapped. Photo via Visual hunt
These figures indicate a real public health problem, especially when we learn that depression is strongly associated with illness and even cardiovascular mortality.
But we also know that sports and physical activity are proven to have positive effects on mental as well as physical well-being. Personal training helps with a great many different chronic conditions.
For some patients, having the support and guidance of a personal trainer is the most effective remedy to prevent them from sinking into depression. Exercise really is the best way to combat feelings of anxiety and depression!
Superprof has put together some tricks for managing and treating depression through exercise with personal trainers and an online personal trainer.
Exercise is a proven anti-depressant, with none of the harmful side effects. Photo via Visual hunt
It’s been proven that exercising – even the smallest bit of regular physical activity – can help fight depression.
Exercise effects the chemistry of the human body, so it works as a powerful natural antidepressant with no harmful side effects.
Engaging in physical activity has so many benefits for a person’s physical and mental health. After activities such as jogging, yoga, fitness, cycling or dance, for example, you might feel tired and maybe a bit drained.
However, the coaching provided by a personal trainer will actually help you feel better due to the release of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine and serotonin), which are too low in people with depression.
These neurotransmitters help regulate a person’s emotions and they help the body function properly. In patients with seasonal depression, a person’s melatonin levels (known as the sleeping hormone) and metabolism are disrupted.
A natural psychotherapy known as light therapy is sometimes used to alleviate fatigue in patients during the day, as they suffer from too high a level of endogenous melatonin. An intense light source is placed before the patient’s eyes to stimulate certain cells in the retina. This therapy is supposed to restore sleep balance, and it’s a useful process for the treatment of depression.
Studies on the subject have estimated that 30 minutes of physical activity per day, over a period of 3 to 5 days, can improve the symptoms of depression.
Exercise has so many physical and emotional benefits, such as:
So you can see that exercise stimulates the body and the mind, which enables patients to combat feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger and lack of self-confidence.
Try starting off with some simple stretches in the morning and evening – or even a few yoga exercises. Gradually building up to more activity will help you feel better with immediate effect and for the long-term!
But which activities can you do in the gym or at home to fight against depression? Just about all of them! Cardio training, Bodybuilding, running, aerobics – as soon as the human body starts moving, it start releasing stress and the burdens it’s carrying.
Is exercise not enough? If you find yourself really struggling, don’t suffer in silence. There are various helplines available in the UK, open 24 hours, with someone ready to listen and support you. Visit the NHS website for more details on who you can call.
Depression is a destructive disease, as it can so often cause people to spiral further into unhappiness and isolation. For some people, their depressive state can even lead to bipolar behaviour.
When it feels impossible to escape these feelings, a person can start feeling ashamed because they don’t feel normal. This often pushes people further into a state of social withdrawal and social avoidance, completely distancing themselves from friends and family.
In very severe cases, some people find themselves experiencing morbid thoughts, which increases the risk of suicide – and it’s an absolute priority to prevent this.
We know for a fact that physical activity that is practiced as a group helps enormously in combatting social isolation.
During a group sport – such as running, spinning, dance, Zumba, team sports, etc. – a person is included and engaged in a group of like-minded people, and this helps to motivate a person and alleviate stress and anxiety.
There are even some clubs available for people suffering with depression where an experienced exercise coach supports and motivates the clients on a personal and compassionate level.
Sometimes it just helps to do a bit of exercise with a friend or family member, as this can reduce feelings of discomfort and isolation.
Group exercise can feel a bit like social reintegration after years of imprisonment, but keeping at it will help to start building up social relationships and confidence again.
After all, humans are social animals and we need to feel connected to other people. The social relationships created through exercise can help us feel connected and supported.
Stress can affect everyone on a daily basis in different ways. Photo credit: Judy ** via Visualhunt
Stress is one of the most common causes of depression, and stressful events and social risks can sometimes lead to severe depression, such as:
Psychotherapy professionals have established that these factors aggravate a person’s vulnerability and can make develop feelings of depression or anxiety even when an event feels initially insignificant. This is what specialists call “kindling”.
In light of this, personal training appears to be an effective antidote: regular physical activity at the gym with a personal coach can limit the physical consequences of depression which often go ignored or unaided by society.
Depression can lead to various risks, such as:
Exercising releases dopamine (the pleasure hormone), adrenaline and endorphins that will turn a person’s mood around, reducing stress and anxiety and making them feel more positive.
As we’ve already mentioned, exercising releases neurotransmitters and secretes the hormones that will put you in a good mood.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters which regulate the body’s response to stress, pain and emotions. During intense physical activity – such as sports, pain, sex – the brain is filled with these neurotransmitters, which stimulate pleasure and happiness.
People with depression suffer from a deficiency of these chemical messengers. A personal coach, in addition to improving a person’s physical condition, helps them fight depression by increasing the release of these hormones.
Moving, breathing and sweating help to oxygenate the body and get rid of toxins, which helps to build a healthy balance and make you feel better without the need for harmful antidepressants.
You’ll also find that through exercising regularly your sleep will improve and stress levels will naturally decrease, due to a decrease in muscle tension and the addition of endorphins.
Personal training, gym membership and group exercise classes can all add up to some quite significant costs, and this can be daunting. Bear in mind, though, that investing in tailored exercise will help you overcome depression and anxiety, and vastly improve your quality of life.
Use sport and exercise as therapy for depression and anxiety. Photo via Visualhunt.com
Exercise isn’t just about fitness: it also means eliminating stress, regaining a healthy lifestyle and having a balanced diet. Exercising has also been proven to have positive effects in lowering your blood pressure. Keeping fit can also help deal with diabetes and even reduce your risk of cancer.
So we know for a fact that regular activity can help in treating anxiety and depression, but we need to remember as well that stopping exercise can have a boomerang effect, and any previous ailments can return.
This is why it’s crucial to continue with exercise and keep it regular – the more you do, the more your body will want to do!
When we look at the effects of depressive moods and anxiety, it becomes more and more obvious that sports and exercise is the best solution, and that it really can contribute to the cure of mental illness.
When we exercise, our self-confidence and general outlook improves, restoring the mind’s natural balance and making us more positive. Regular physical activity makes us more inclined to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, as it results in:
On the whole, thanks to increased dopamine and serotonin levels, you’ll experience life in a whole new light, finding pleasure in things you didn’t before, and discovering all sorts of new interests and hobbies.