By; Remy Kelbel, Associated Press
February; 20, 2022
Fitness and Mental Health ~ The most difficult part of depression is feeling alone. A couple years ago I struggled with this notion that “I am alone.” But as I have done research and talked to a fitness professional about this hard to swallow illness, I have learned the truth, that just might provide some people with a breakthrough. I spoke with a personal trainer from Colorado Springs, named Ryan Mitchell about disorders like depression and anxiety and how fitness isn’t just about the body, but the mind.
Through a foggy window as my breathe touches the glass, I draw a frown face, it was one of those harsh winters where my hands were red and hurting from being outside. I was tired, but most of all I felt lost, unsure of who I was anymore or why I was even here. I cried, alone and empty in the backseat of my car with my dogs head on my lap.
As heartbreaking as that is to read I promise you this story gets better and with a voice other than my own. About why fitness is so good for a mind going through a silent battle.
But that’s the funny thing about silence, its so numbingly loud.
I remember working with Ryan, my personal trainer and him saying to me, you know sometimes it’s not just about being physically fit but mentally fit as well.
I agreed as I lifted the weight over my head and back down, breathing in and out, I looked myself in the mirror and that’s what I saw. For the first time in a long time I was coming to terms with my depression in a close way, as if you’re zooming the camera lens a little too close.
“It’s so important to be aware of your feelings, Ryan said, as if he knew what I was going through. He began to tell me a story about his past depression and how he dealt with it.
He ended with, If we can’t do anything, doing something physical not just works our bodies but works our soul.”
Working the soul, It sounds so beautiful when you say those three dim lit words, but as I’m sitting here with my depression no longer a worry in my life, those words seem so bright.
Ryan went on to tell me, I’ve seen a difference when clients get out into the sun hitting us with Vitamin D. We spend too much time inside, social media and tv has kept us in.”
I thought this was so Interesting so I went to Google to learn more, typing “how sunlight affects depression.”This is what I found: When sunlight hits your skin, your body releases something called nitric oxide into your blood. This compound brings down blood pressure and improves heart health. Maintaining healthy blood pressure can reduce your risks of cardiac disease and stroke. Feelings of relaxation may also naturally bring down blood pressure, so boosting your happiness by soaking up rays also aids in keeping your pressure down, according to tricitymed.org.
But the same benefit can be found in physical activity, so much so there’s even a name for it.“The Nitric Oxide Dump exercise consists of squats and arm raises, circular arm swings, and shoulder presses. By incorporating all of these exercises, you maximize the amount of blood flow throughout your body, rather than limiting it to just one portion of your body, according to nutrigardens.com.
From this research, I have learned, simply put, fitness just has a way making us feel happy, giving us endorphins and serotonin to our brain. With an increase in activity comes with an increase in smiles around the world. Finally becoming not just physically fit, but, mentally fit too.