Learn about Exercise & Depression
Personal trainers help people learn how to exercise to improve health & fitness and reduce health risks linked to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, mood disorders and depression.
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Perhaps you know someone who has experienced an episode of depression ? According to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), major depression is influenced by biological and environmental factors.
Major depression or depressive disorder is considered when you or a person you know feels depressed for a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in otherwise normal behavior, such as remarkable loss of sleep, under or over-eating, low sense of energy, an inability to focus, or evident decline of self-image. People who are depressed tend to gain or lose a remarkable amount of body weight within a relatively short period of time.
Depression is a condition that reportedly affects 1 in 10 Americans. The incidence of depression is higher in some states over others. Many factors play a role in the incidence of depression, these factors include gender, race, environment, and to lesser extent genes . Depression appears to be most common in people ranging in ages from 45 to 64. While these, and many other symptoms, are regularly expressed by people who are depressed — exercise can help, in time, along with other prescribed treatment, reduce negative symptoms or help you or someone you know work through a very difficult time, and return to a normal, healthy, state-of-mind and well-being.
People suffering with depression are often prescribed medications and psychotherapy. In theory, the combination of treatments directs attention to both physical or chemical and emotional challenges. Medications may help stabilize chemicals in the brain and psychotherapy allows a person to focus and build coping mechanisms to both identify emotional triggers that precede feelings of sadness or hopelessness as well as practical ways in which you might manage these triggers and following symptoms. From a practical perspective exercise, as a habit, drives people to accomplish goals in an incremental and consistent way. This realization of accomplishment, along with physical and emotional rewards, helps to motivate people to feel more hopeful and demonstrates the ability to be physically present in the world rather than act as a passive bystander. We exist because we think we exist. We matter because we think we matter. And, for what it’s worth — you are invaluably precious to countless people — even if you don’t immediately realize this fact.
It is easy to explain to people that exercise is enormously beneficial to our body and physical health. Exercise can do more than prevent or lower blood pressure, risk of disorder, disease, and illness, exercise is vital to our mental sharpness and emotional health. According to Dr. Stephen Ilardi, professor of clinical psychology and the author of The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs, small intervals of exercise can be greatly beneficial to people with depression. Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve depression symptoms. He suggests a minimum of 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. Evidence suggests that exercise raises the levels of certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Exercise may also boost endorphins (A group of chemicals produced in the brain that reduce pain and improve mood), release muscle tension, help you sleep better, and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. All of these changes in your mind and body can improve symptoms of sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt and hopelessness.
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