This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Exploring the Relationship between

Exercise and Mental Health

he mental health benefits of exercise have largely been overlooked by personal trainers and gym owners in favour of the pursuit of physical excellence. But people don’t just come to the gym to look good, they come to feel good too. Mental health problems will affect 25% of people this year and that’s a statistic we simply should not ignore. Unlike obesity, depression can be very hard to identify. AS a Personal trainer or Gym owner, your clients are likely to be very open about struggling with weight management but, due to the societal stigma that surrounds mental health issues, particularly for men, they are unlikely to come out and say that they have a mental health goal. It’s also very difficult to differentiate between someone who is temporarily down, or naturally reserved, and the more intractable sadness of clinical depression. Here are a few of the ways that personal trainers can help those suffering from mental health issues: Keep depression at bay. Exercise has been proven to be at least as effective as medication in treating mild depression for most people who take on a structured exercise plan. Those who exercise frequently are also less likely to become depressed than those who are inactive. There are various theories that explain the link between depression and exercise, the most well-known of which being the endorphin theory. Aside from more complex mechanisms,


“Exercise is helpful for the majority of people who experience mild depression”

58 I body LIFE 2 I 2015

however, the simple facts that exercising is distracting (in a positive way), gets you out of the house and makes you feel better about your body also go some way to explaining why exercise is effective at beating depression.

Exercise is helpful for the majority of people who experience mild depression but it is not a silver bullet when it comes to moderate or severe depression. In more extreme cases, your client should seek medical help in conjunction with maintaining a healthy exercise routine. Improve sex life. Sexual disorders and disinterest can be damaging for those who experience them and their relationships. Sexual health is strongly related to physical and mental health with those who are inactive or depressed being much more likely to experience some form of sexual dysfunction than active people. Vigorous exercise improves blood flow throughout the body and can reduce the likelihood of impotence in men. Exercise can also improve sexual response in women. Perhaps more than the physical benefits though, exercise has also been proven to enhance self-esteem, a key element to a healthy sex life.

Catch more ZZZs. Those suffering from one or more mental health complications are likely to experience sleep deprivation and this can also be a trigger for mental health problems. Fortunately, those who exercise are more likely to sleep for longer and wake up less frequently in the night than those that are sedentary. A caveat here, is that some studies suggest that it can take up to sixteen weeks for an exercise routine to affect your sleep pattern, so it’s certainly something that you need to work toward and not give up on too easily. Reduce the likelihood of anxiety attacks. Aerobic exercise, especially when it is high-intensity, has been proven to reduce both anxiety sensitivity and more generalised anxiety. There are several possible explanations as to why this might be the case but one of the more convincing is that the effects of

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72