Are you—or is someone in your life— anxious or depressed? Did you know that exercise can help? Scientific under- standing of mental health disorders is increasing—and exercise is emerging as a potent healing tool.
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, IDEA’s 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year and author of Pilates Fusion: Well-Being for Body, Mind and Spirit, describes how exercise impacts mood and what you can do to improve mental health.
Science Says: Exercise Benefits Mental Health
It should be easy: A person works a full day, drops into a vigorous boot camp after work, and then falls into bed exhausted, but satisfied. She’s asleep in minutes, right? That would be nice, but for many people, high-intensity evening classes actually delay the onset of sleep. Researchers think this is because workouts ramp up heart rate so much that the body has trouble recovering before bedtime (Oda & Shirakawa 2014).
Move with joy and energy, even if you’re down, and soon you’ll be feeling happy, too. This is the finding from researchers who, knowing that walking exercise could improve a person’s mood, decided to study whether walking style—happy or sad—might also affect mood.
As a fitness or wellness professional, you understand better than anyone that the cells in our bodies adapt to the stresses that are placed on them. This is why you are able to help people experience the won- derful benefits of building muscle, reduc- ing body fat and improving overall fitness and wellness as part of a healthy lifestyle.
As a culture, we are obsessed with pursuing the perfect body, and the media tell us that once we drop the weight, get the six-pack and fit into our size 2 jeans, then we will be happy.
But what if we have it all wrong? What if the opposite is true? What if being happy brings us body satisfaction?
Here’s the Skinny
Let your clients know that their positive outlook on life can contribute to better health for their partners and for themselves. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.201 4.03.104) found that people with an optimistic spouse had better physical functioning and fewer chronic illnesses than people with a more pessimistic partner—and the relationship between optimism and health did not lessen as more years passed.
“I’ve been active much of my life but have also struggled with depression from a young age,” says Kris Cameron, ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of ReNu Your Life—Mobile Personal Training & Wellness in Iowa City, Iowa. “About 18 years ago I was put on a very low dose of Zoloft (25 milligrams). It helped, but I also continued to be active, to work out—and I started my training career. newsletter_teaser: “I’ve been active much of my life but have also struggled with depression from a young age,” says Kris Cameron, ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of ReNu Your Life—Mobile Personal Training & Wellness in Iowa City, Iowa.
Sometimes when you’re out there trying to inspire the rest of the world to fitness and wellness, you neglect taking care of business “at home.” We know you can relate to this because we’ve had this conversation with many of you time and again over the years. The cobbler’s children are the last to get shoes, as the old saying goes.
In March 2011, we gathered the IDEA staff to participate in an off-site team retreat that helped us dramatically reshape the cultural blueprint for our company. We went into the daylong meeting as a competent and confident team of co-workers and colleagues; 15 months later, we proudly call ourselves a Tribe. There is a subtle yet powerful difference between the two. Where the former was a collection of people who happened to work together, the latter is a family whose ties are intertwined and whose individual successes become shared achievements.
While many think of happiness as elusive or random, you can learn daily methods for optimizing your joy and improving your well-being. A growing body of research in the field of positive psychology supports using specific techniques to increase gladness and life satisfaction. Practices that can enhance your daily pleasure include the following:
Single-task. Avoid doing several things at once. Overstimulation dilutes your ability to savor what you’re doing.