Believe Blog 1: How Does Working Out Help With Depression?
By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer
In 2009, I found myself in a place where I could no longer clearly see the purpose of my own life. I was at the pinnacle of my work career and I had a beautiful son, but I had hit what, one might say, was the rock bottom of my mental health. With so much going in my favor, why was I so unhappy?
Many days I wondered if I was just going to make it through the day or if I would give in and stop by that bridge that enticed me just for a “leap of non-faith.” With the makings of a wonderful life happening in front of me, I figured at this point in my life, I needed to try anything to assist me out from this darkness I was living in.
I turned to something I had stepped away from for many years - exercise. My weight was at the highest it had been in many years and I no longer recognized the person in the mirror. I had lost myself. My confidence level and energy were at an all time low. The thought that I was too far gone crossed my mind more than once.
Giving myself time to work on me, also provided the chance to reflect. I started working out but the way I felt did not immediately change. I started pushing myself and started to notice small changes, causing me to start to feel better about myself. The major changes came when I started to exercise consistently.
Between the endorphins released by working out, the encouragement from those I was working out with, and new positive self-talk, I began to notice more successes. Over time and with consistency, change came.
My eyes were opened to things I had not seen in a long time. I started to cope better with the waves of doubt that would sometimes come over me. Working out became my coping mechanism and my way to breathe.
It has been almost ten years since I started my journey of self-improvement. This journey has led me to a career in the health and fitness industry. Many factors contributed to me being successful but I believe consistency and believing in myself were my main factors. This is different for everyone though.
Looking back, I am proud of myself for making the decision to give back to me. I broke the cycle of self-doubt and despair that was suffocating me. I still struggle with these feelings occasionally, but I have the coping skills and relationships in place to help me overcome them in order to be successful.
I want to add a few findings from the Mayo Clinic and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. One thing I strongly suggest, and that I have found helpful, is to look for more information when something like this occurs. It will help you understand that you not alone in this process or the feelings that you having. These articles present several physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of exercise on your mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic (2018), exercise:
Releases endorphins that promote a positive sense of well-being
Helps break the cycle of negative thoughts that often accompany depression
Improves self- confidence by achieving goals and positively improving body image
Promotes social interaction with people who have similar goals and interests
Contributes to the development of positive coping skills
According The Anxiety and Depression Association (2018), just five minutes of aerobic activity has anti-anxiety effects. Some other benefits include:
Decreased tension and stress
Now remember, each one of us different. Take the time to research and find what works for you. Also, if you are currently working with a medical professional be sure to contact him/her before starting a workout regimen. I will continue to blog in the next few weeks about how being consistent with your health and physical activity can lead to an overall healthy lifestyle.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Exercise for stress and anxiety. Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495