When we think about exercise and resistance training it tends to conjure up images of fit/muscular bodies, guns and six packs. This is all well and good, and a true picture with enough dedication, but it only scratches the surface of the benefits of regular exercise. I think it’s fair to say that one of the main reasons someone takes up exercise is for aesthetics. Many may not give a second thought to the other perks. I could start listing them but that’s another days work!
The biggest and most potentially life changing benefit, in my humble opinion, is that of your mental health and general outlook on life. There are many, many studies that document the positive physical, and in turn psychological effects that exercise can have on an individual. I have read many and could start spouting references but in my opinion information from first-hand experience is both more inspiring and digestible. So, I would like to share some of what I have experienced to demonstrate how powerful training and nutrition can be. From my late teens, all through my twenties and through four pregnancies, I struggled with depression. I’m not talking just having a bad day, I mean the kind that impacts your everyday life. To cut a long story short, after many bouts of different medication and climbing out only to sink back in again, my gp told me that it was highly likely I would have to remain on medication for the rest of my life. This in itself was quite depressing!!
Anyhow, not being one to take things lying down I decided enough was enough. I was taking matters into my own hands. I did my research on what might be the cause and what could help and came to the conclusion that cleaning up my diet and regular exercise might just be my ticket to a healthier, happier me. I started off quite easy, mainly cardio to be honest but the high I got from running instantly got me hooked. Sure it helped with weight loss which was the reason I would tell others I was doing it, but the quality of my life depended on it. Not long after, I got into weight training which has completely taken over the running now! There are so many reasons I love it. I’m happier, more confident, a better parent, a better wife and person all round. I have now been off all medication for over three years. I’m not suggesting it is this simple for anyone that struggles with depression and I consider myself lucky that it works for me. I do feel strongly however that closely monitored nutrition and exercise should be seriously considered by general practitioners as a first port of call for treatment. Studies have shown benefits of exercise to be longer lasting than some medications(Exerciseismedicine.org) Exercise can have a very real impact on mental health by: ● Releasing endorphins, giving a feeling of euphoria.
● Improving self-esteem.
● Reducing stress and anxiety.
● Stimulating the immune system.
For many, exercise can be a bore, a chore, or purely a means to looking good(nothing wrong with that!) but for some it can be so much more.