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EXERCISE AND MENTAL HEALTH I HOLISTIC HEALTH


exercise - an elevated heart rate and sweating - allow the body to become accustomed to the symptoms of an anxiety attack in a safe environment. Furthermore, exercise can boost mood, another antidote to anxiety. Say goodbye to stress. Researchers are narrowing in on the link between exercise and stress and have calculated that one twenty minute exercise session can generate ninety to one hundred and twenty minutes of relaxation response from your body. In layman’s terms, that’s more relaxation per minute than you’ll get from a soak in the tub. This is one of the reasons that people who are able to exercise during the workday, such as personal trainers, report much lower stress levels than those who work in an office environment. Feel better, in body and mind. We’ve all heard of the ‘runner’s high,’ and there’s a good chance that the majority of personal trainers have experienced it first-hand. The good news is that it’s not just runners who get to feel euphoric – it can be everyone who exercises. It’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly which chemical is responsible. Some say endorphins, others point to a variety of neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, all of which can be traced to a ‘feel-good factor’ and all of which are elevated during exercise. Whatever the exact reason, the results are clear: people who exercise regularly report higher rates of well-being and lower incidences of depression and anxiety.


One of the more interesting recent studies evaluating the effectiveness of exercise at beating depression compared exercise-as-a-treatment versus a standard medication plan. While medication did work more quickly to alleviate the symptoms of depression, at the sixteen week mark it was found that the two methods were just as effective as one another.


More interestingly however was the fact that at the ten month follow up, those who had continued to exercise were


www.body-life.uk body LIFE 2 I 2015 I 59


“In layman’s terms … exercise provides more relaxation per minute than you’ll get from a soak in the tub”


much less likely to have fallen back into depression than those who had continued to take medication. As personal trainers move away from a single-minded focus on outward appearance and adopt a more holistic approach that addresses the overall health and wellbeing of their clients, we can expect to learn more about the mental health benefits that exercise can provide. In a country where just over half admit that anxiety has held them back at some point in their lives, exercise, as a natural health booster can have a massive role to play.


Peter Lemon is the director of the Academy of Fitness Professionals, a leading provider of REPS accredited fitness instructor and personal trainer courses. www.academyoffitnessprofessionals.com


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