"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
~ Socrates ~
Work out Anxiety and Depression
For many years I did not understanding the “empty” feeling deep inside of me and of course I was always a worrier. My Mom would ask me what was wrong and all I could say was, I don’t know. I have always liked doing physical things but never thought about the reasons why. People at work thought I was crazy because I liked to be in a trailer throwing boxes all day. Later in life fitness became a way to be healthy and feel better. Little by little I began to realize that it really did make me feel better and as a personal trainer I was given the opportunity to see it work in others as well. Since I have become more open in talking about anxiety and depression I have been lucky enough to have so many people open up to me and tell me their stories. What it all boils down to is that we all have a story and the more we relate to each other the better off we will be. Now getting to my point of this post; exercise of any kind will help you deal with anxiety, depression and make your story a more positive one.
I am not a medical expert but I want to take some time to talk about the benefit of getting involved in some type of exercise program to help deal with anxiety and depression. I am convinced of two things based on my own experiences. First, I believe that interval training helps get the body used to dealing with stress. By getting your heart rate up and allowing it to return to normal and continuously repeating the process, I feel like your body learns from this and does not “panic” because it is used to the process and in time it will return to normal quicker. Second is that for years I have struggled with (self diagnosed) Seasonal Affective Disorder and the last two years I have run outside anytime it is possible during the winter. By doing this I have given myself maximum exposure to the sun and lessened its affect on me. The irony is amusing when you watch people’s reactions when you are out in the elements and they are sure that you have lost it. They do not realize that what you are doing is keeping you whole.
Moving from the physical and health benefits but staying with the mental health benefits we have to look at increased self esteem and confidence. The more you learn to do for yourself, the better you feel. Setting and reaching goals can be very rewarding and encouraging. The most important aspect of setting goals is to make them realistic at first; there is plenty of time as you progress to set one that scares the heck out of you. Working out with a partner, personal trainer or a class/group setting increases inclusiveness and can help with feelings of being excluded. Finding ways to be around like-minded people who have similar goals can help keep you accountable and increase your odds of success. This can be a safe, positive atmosphere for people who struggle with social interaction. If a class setting is too much at first try a trainer but do not be afraid to have someone with you and “interview” the trainer. You must be able to relate to this person and they must understand where you are in your journey.
There have been many studies and articles done on this subject. It does not seem to have to be aggressive or strenuous activities either, although many who suffer these things seem to gravitate towards endurance sports. Even 15-20 minutes of walking or using an elliptical can help you feel more relaxed and balanced. Increased blood flow and circulation will increase gas exchange in the capillaries. This simply means that more oxygen is brought to your blood and toxins (gases) can be released; this is in addition to the toxins released while you sweat. Incorporating cardio workouts helps to regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. Exercise triggers the release of hormones and chemicals needed to keep the mind balanced while releasing stress from the body. One of the best known chemicals is endorphins which act with receptors in the brain to help block pain.
There is too much evidence not to give exercise a try; the better you feel, the better decisions you will make and the more positive you will be. Remember that if you woke up breathing today, it is not too late! I would love to hear your stories and thoughts on this.