ANXIETY, STRESS, DEPRESSION AND EXERCISE
The purpose of this short article is to help raise awareness on the importance of regular exercise / physical activity for mental health as well as physical health.
The benefits of exercise are widely documented and include weight management, improved posture, improved strength, improved sex life and bigger muscles but sometimes, exercise is also used as a tool to help people feel better about themselves. The benefits of exercise on mental health is slowly generating awareness and as a result, recently FitAsylum™ has been working closely with a number of Leisure Organisations supporting the development of their staff in areas such as Exercise Referral qualifications which includes developing a sound understanding of how exercise can help clients who suffer with Anxiety, Stress and Depression
Our Personal Trainer courses are delivered by industry experts who have a vast amount of experience working with Stressed and Depressed clients. They have come up with their 5 main reasons why clients who suffer with Stress, Anxiety and Depression should exercise and be more active:
- Exercise can drastically improve the way we sleep. I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some point a mild / acute form of insomnia or even a couple of bad night’s sleep on the bounce – how did you feel the next day? In most cases lack of sleep makes us sensitive, short fused and even the smallest of things can cause stress. It’s well documented that individuals who suffer with Anxiety, Stress or Depression naturally find it harder to sleep, thus exacerbating the condition.
- Exercise or any form of physical activity doesn’t need to be alone. According to the NHS millions of people in the UK live alone and hundreds of thousands of people are lonely and cut off from society. The lack of interaction with others or feelings of isolation can result in Depression. As health and fitness specialists we can encourage group exercise participation followed by social events to help our clients interact with each other, form new friendships and even create peer coping / support networks.
- In the modern world we are consistently under pressure from work, friends and family and with modern technology such as smart phones we can’t escape it. Exercise on the other hand gives your client the opportunity to escape reality and to leave their work e-mails / phone in the locker. During our Personal Training qualifications, we often discuss the importance of helping clients escape reality and take them back to childhood by playing games such as tag or stuck in the mud. These are great ways to start a group session and 99% of the time the clients really enjoy it as it reminds them of growing up, having fun and playing with friends.
- Neural Changes. Exercise can promote a number of changes in the brain which include things like neural growth, feelings of calm and well being as well as reduce inflammation. Furthermore, exercise can result in that ‘feel good’ factor and in the release of powerful feel good chemicals known as endorphins.
- Release Tension. It’s extremely common for clients who suffer with Stress and Anxiety to be tense, especially when they are in less favourable situations or in stressful situations. When clients are chronically tense they could experience things such as poor posture, back pain, insomnia, diarrhoea and frequent urination. Exercise can help reduce this tension and as a result improve your client’s quality of life. E.g. Yoga, Pilates, Group Exercise and even Swimming can help reduce tension.
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