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Mind over Body - The 411 on Depression + Exercise

~ Lashley Training Center ~

By Sarah Elise

Depression. Such a dark and chilling word that packs a punch most all of us have felt at some point or another. It hits differently for each of us - environmental factors, hormonal changes, life trauma and pandemic stress… Life plays rough sometimes, and without the proper tools, so many fall victim to depression and anxiety. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it the world’s leading cause of disability. So the good news is: even when you feel it - you’re not alone.

With winter upon us and the day’s rays shortening, Seasonal Affective Disorder is right around the corner, ready to claim happy moods and increase Netflix addiction a thousand fold. Sound familiar? Too cold - too rainy - too any and everything to get out of a funk and move. So quickly we allow the weather to win, but that’s just one factor. The sun’s natural Vitamin D we crave decreases, leaving us feeling lethargic and unmotivated. While it is recommended (for adults) to get 600-800 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D a day or at least 15 minutes of sunlight between 10-3, the good majority of us slaying away at our day jobs find that feat almost impossible. Very few foods naturally have enough to get your daily dose, so unless you’re consuming mass amounts of egg yolks, fungi, fatty fishes, and other fortified foods, chances are - like the majority - you are Vitamin D deficient. Decreased levels of Vitamin D contribute to poorly regulated mood and behavior and increased risk for depression. Not a bad idea to beat the system - simple blood work can reveal your current levels, and Jeff Bezos can deliver Vitamin D supplements to your doorstep.

Hormones...Another fun factor that gets all of us at some point. There’s much to be said for the chemical functions in our brains and bodies. We feel how we feel without much thought as to what chemicals we are triggering to be released and when. The science is simple. Cortisol - baddd. That’s our stress hormone, and increased levels are linked to insulin resistance and obesity. Yikes! Have a job? Watch the news? Own children? Live day-to-day? Chances are - you’re probably stressed. At first, it’s fun - a little stress decreases your appetite - making you believe you’re on a new path for weight loss simply living, without much effort. This is extremely misleading and dangerous. Long-term stress increases insulin levels which drive down your blood sugar causing cravings for allllll the wrong things. Chronic stress also decreases Serotonin levels - our happy neurotransmitters (which also are affected by that darn sunlight.) So… what’s the lesson here??? We all stress - it’s a natural process in life that we oftentimes cannot avoid and are forced to embrace - but we are somewhat in control of the rest of the chemical processes. To beat the system - we must fight fire with fire - increase the endorphins and dopamine to drive down the cortisol. Endorphins - (Endogenous - coming from the body + Morphine - opiate pain reliever ... thus our body’s natural pain reliever) help us cope with pain and stress by increasing the feeling of pleasure and well-being, while reducing feelings of pain and discomfort. Dopamine - our friendly motivational hormone - drives us toward goals and positive habit formation and helps regulate our emotional responses to stimuli. Both of these chemicals are released in mass quantities when you exert yourself physically. Research shows that regular exercise, solid sleep habits, music + meditation, lots of protein (amino acids), limited saturated fats, and … wait for it … sunshine - increase levels of both of these extremely important chemicals. But I cannot stress this enough … the gym can heal you. On the days you are sure you can’t - those are the days you need the gym the most. Just a smidge of a push to get in there - throw some weight around - a couple incline sprints, jogs or walks - make your heart do some work and give your brain a break - GUARANTEE - you’ll start to feel the feels… you will walk out of that gym motivated to do something else positive, tackle another goal you made, and continue that positive mindset. Go ahead and take the credit for the smidge of the push - but the rest is all due to our magical God-given brainwork.

Speaking of. He doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. Over the course of our existence - loved ones will pass on, hearts will get broken, relationships will ebb and flow, jobs and careers may alter … hardships. will. happen. Otherwise, are we even living? But there’s one thing that remains constant - the weight of a dumbbell in your life. Honor your loved one by training for your first marathon (or start small with a 5k), connect with a personal trainer to get the revenge body you always claim you’re going to get … tomorrow, enjoy a hassle-free relationship with the gym that never talks back and is always there for you … any time of day, release your red from an unsatisfying job or frustrating career move by punching pads or grappling with friendly faces in a healthy outlet. No matter what life throws at you, the solution can be found within the confines of Lashley Training Center and gyms across the globe. A solid workout will leave you looking good and feeling motivated, self confident, and ready to take on the world. Depression doesn’t stand a chance.

So where does that leave us? Common sense tells us that no one thing will always treat depression. However, if we round up the facts and decide we want to live happier and healthier - we must:

Make better choices - from eats to our sleep, be conscious of our bodies - get that Vitamin D. Food is a mood - choose wisely, plan ahead, the processed garbage defeats all your hard work instead. Don’t sweat the small stuff - but big sweats are better, force yourself to workout in inclement weather. Decrease the cortisol - too much stress is no good, we want Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins - understood? Life throws you a curveball? -don’t curl up and get soft - time to grow up, and show up and blow some steam off. Focus your energy, discomfort and pain into emotional, mental, and physical gain.

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