Last week FLexercise attended the Elevate 18 exhibition and Alison, our Teachers & Members Co-ordinator, participated in a seminar on mental health and exercise. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this years theme is stress. So we are looking at how exercise can help with depression and reduce stress.
What is Depression?
Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause. A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.
Did you know, depression is viewed as a major chronic illness and is often blamed on modern life? As humans, we have evolved to live in groups, but our face to face connections with others have reduced so we are losing our abilities to socialise. Remember it’s ok to talk about mental health.
Looking after your mental health using exercise
We have moved away from physical exercise in our daily lives and manual labour is considered unworthy. So, for our mental health, as well as physical health, we need to take positive action to exercise. Exercise encourages the development of new brain cells and trains the connections in the brain. It also aids our metabolic activity plus the endorphins produced give a feeling of wellbeing. Exercise is proven to be an effective and robust tool to aid in the treatment of depression.
We should all exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes (although just 10 minutes is beneficial). It should be aerobic and equally importantly, it should be sociable and fun.
Mental wellbeing increases after exercise. Whilst this may be short-lived, the positive feeling you get from doing physical activity should help encourage you to continue. Having the right environment and structure for continuity and stability is vital. Social support and interaction are important too; building connections and genuine friendships and not being judged.
Being active doesn’t have to mean doing sport or going to the gym.
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Exercise doesn’t have to be competitive, finding a sociable exercise group could improve the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.
People need to know the session will be there every week. So if they feel unable to cope some weeks they know when they return the class will be there. When attending a session is not feasible a walk may be the answer. Exercise should be right for each individual at the time.
FLexercise offers a holistic approach to exercise. Our exercise system is health and age inclusive. Many will say how much better they feel at the end of a class. And we know how important physical activity is to those who suffer from mental health issues. Our classes give an opportunity to be in a group. There’s no pressure to talk and engage with others but with the chance to socialise and communicate when it is right.