Scientific understanding of mental health disorders is increasing—and exercise is emerging as a potent healing tool. Evidence has shown that exercise and physical activity can alleviate or help manage symptoms of the two most common disorders—anxiety and depression.
Marie was a client who had long suffered from anxiety. I’d discovered years ago that a walk outside before a strength training workout calmed and focused her mind, resulting in a more effective workout for her and a more positive experience for both of us. When my boss found out, he went ballistic.
R. was carrying 311 pounds on her 5-foot-8-inch frame when she had blood work done at a “Know Your Numbers” workplace event. The results were so grim that the staff volunteered to take her to the hospital. When the doctor told R. that she might not have lived much longer had she not come in immediately, R. realized she owed her life to her employer, Clayton Homes. “Thanks for the wake-up call,” R. said. “I’m now 60 pounds lighter, I feel 10 times better, and I will continue this battle and lose more weight.
Did you know that your brain is incredibly dynamic? It can change its structure and function by adding new neurons, making new connections between neurons and even creating brand-new blood vessels, all in response to exercise.
Jeffrey A. Kleim, PhD, associate professor in the Arizona State University School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, shares the following insights on how exercise impacts the brain. newsletter_teaser: Did you know that your brain is incredibly dynamic? It can change its structure and function by adding new neurons, making new connections between neurons and even creating brand-new blood vessels, all in response to exercise.
Issues such as the poor economy and smaller work forces are leading more people to work longer hours. Many exercise professionals train clients who work in the fields of health, technology, security, medicine, computer programming, food services and transportation, which often require working evenings and/or night shifts. These professions, and many others, may disturb sleep patterns, compromising cognitive performance and leading to serious health consequences.
What makes us weaken with age? The prime culprit is sarcopenia—age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, power and function (Sayer et al. 2013; Morley 2012). Morley (2012) says 5%–13% of 60- to 70-year-olds and 11%–50% of people in their 80s have sarcopenia, which means “poverty of flesh.”
Even in childhood I had a philosophical bent. I distinctly remember sitting at the dinner table with my twin brother and discussing with him why the dog could eat hamburger and it became “dog,” whereas we could eat hamburger and it became “us.” An interesting question for a couple of 9-year-olds to pursue. Sadly, we never figured it out.
By my early 20s I had taken up the study of yoga, and my worrisome won- dering about the big questions of mean- ing and purpose in life was becoming more refined. Now I really wanted to “understand” what life was all about.
You know them well—your obese clients who have tried everything: weight-loss meal programs, fat-burner pills, crash diets, gym memberships. Nothing worked for very long. When they turned up at your door, low self-efficacy was all they had to show for their sincere efforts to change.
More than anything, you want to help them turn the corner and adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors they can maintain. But how do you do it?
The health and fitness world confronts a complex paradox. Exercise causes consternation and elation, angst and joy. It can prevent—and lead to—illness and injury. Workouts can keep you out of a hospital and put you into one.