Physical Activity and Depression
Let me once again start with a little story: once upon a time, a regular child grew up very insecure of his look. All the other kids at school bullied him, and he ended up developing a very negative self-image. In his adolescence, something changed and he decided to gain control of his destiny.
He started reading about exercise, nutrition, and supplementation and became a little expert in the darkness of his own room. Then he found the courage to subscribe to a gym and apply all the knowledge he gathered.
After a series of trial and error, but without ever giving up, he finally managed to change his body and be accepted (if not admired) by his friends for his results and persistence.
Trigger the change!
This is my story but can be everybody’s story. Extreme conditions always lead to massive actions, as long as there is a powerful belief that something has to change.
Driven by the power my body transformation had on shaping my life, I’ve decided to dedicate myself to help others recreate the same experience. I truly believe that is possible to transform one’s life by taking care of one’s body first.
So I found myself digging into the science of how moving the human body can change the quality of our thoughts. What I found was very powerful and I’d like to share with you some wisdom.
Emotions come with motions
I first suggest you have a look at this TED talk about how our body can condition our mental state:
During my years of work with clients in the gym, I often saw some of them gaining incredible confidence by losing weight and straightening their posture. Some of them were single and got into a relationship. Others changed their job for a better paid one. Many quit their corporate job to start a successful business and my clients and I believe that the improved self-confidence, gained by changing one’s body, ultimately reflects in people taking more challenges and succeeding in life.
Let me prove my point!
You might say “well I don’t believe that”, but let’s take a close look to the truth. As usual, I’d like you to take some time to do a little exercise here with me.
1) Close your eyes and think about how much work you still have to do before leaving the office, or how many days you will need to wait before taking your next holiday.
Or simply think about something that highly stresses you. Make sure you have a vivid picture in your mind. Feel deeply the stress related to that particular situation.
2) Now keep your eyes closed and notice how your body shaped. Are your face muscles relaxed downward and a bit tense? Are your shoulders rolled forward and your chest tight? Is your head looking down? Do you feel tired, sluggish and a bit frustrated?
As you can see your body shapes according to your thoughts or emotions and affects your psychology.
3) Now please stand up straight. I want you to inhale through your chest very quickly four times and exhaling big. Repeat this four times and every time get your chest as high up as you can and roll your shoulders backward.
You probably feel a little high and dizzy, because I have just activated your adrenaline pump by changing the paste of your breathing. You are ready to run the 100 meters right now!
4) Now stay straight and with this new powerful posture close your eyes and imagine a moment in life when you felt powerful, victorious, fulfilled and happy.
Visualize images, sounds, smells, and feelings related to that particular moment. Now pay attention to your body: are you smiling? Are you looking up? Do you have a proud posture?
5) Now sit back on your chair, take a long deep breath through your tummy and exhale in 10 seconds very slowly. Now you should feel relaxed and chilled.
As you can see, our body affects our emotions. You can use this exercise to change your state immediately. It doesn’t matter how horrible your day was or if there is another tube strike tomorrow.
YOU CAN CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL ANYTIME, BY SIMPLY CHANGING THE WAY YOU BREATHE AND THE WAY YOU MOVE.
Exercise is the ultimate weapon for happiness
I remember Richard Branson answering the question “what’s your secret?” in an interview. His answer was simply “I exercise every morning”.
Tony Robbins calls his morning exercise routine “the hour of power”. Even Napoleon Hill in his classic Think And Grow Rich mentions exercise as one of the critical factors for success, and that was in the 50s!
Exercise beats Prozac!
Has been proven that physical exercise is seven times more powerful than Prozac in fighting depression and self-destructive behavior. It is also proven that if you workout for more than six months, you will never stop for the rest of your life, unless some major event stops you, and even then you will most likely find a way to get back on it ASAP.
Your body is your temple
There is nothing on earth that will give you an endless sense of joy and fulfillment more taking care of your own body. Investing your energy and time in working out is the wisest decision you can ever make, and that is true for any group of age.
So please find the time to move and unleash your positive emotions at least five times a week. Your future depends on it.