Female Mental Health

In 2016, I suffered an injury that affected me physically and mentally. I was part of SOS fitness enjoying all the classes and had started a strength and conditioning programme once a week in the park. After the accident I struggled with anxiety, which impacted on my life in a very negative way and affected my attendance at the SOS classes. 

I got myself to the park for Boot camp, it was overwhelming, the voice in my head was panicking and screaming at me to run away, get out of there! I nearly did, but another member (Allyson Kellis) saw my struggles, she gave me words of advice and support. It was mentally and physically exhausting but I was so happy I completed the class.

From there with the encouragement of the SOS staff I started a Personal Training Strength  programme 4 times a week to help with my physical recovery. I wasn’t aware of the benefits of weight lifting to my mental health!

Studies have found exercise to have both physiological and psychological benefits. A Harvard study found that ten weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than counselling. This is particularly important for women since they are more than twice as likely to experience depression and only one out of three actually seek care.

Not feeling good? Then train. Not happy? Then train. Need an instant mental and mood boost? Then train! The science is simple! If you suffer from feeling down at times or serious depression, then you can find solace in weight training!

Of course there are countless benefits to weight training.

Here is a quick list of mental and emotional benefits that you will get from banging some weights around!

When you exercise and lift weights you:

  1. Have an instant release of ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins.
  2. You enjoy a feeling of accomplishment after you finish your workout.
  3. You know if you can achieve getting through your hard weight training workout, you can achieve anything!
  4. Your endurance level is increased, so you have more energy to tackle life’s challenges that come at you.
  5. You have pride in yourself by sticking to a workout program.
  6. Your high protein food plan that usually goes with weight training is superior for your brain, and aids in the well being of your mental state, as high protein lean fish, red meats and chicken are ‘super brainy’ foods.

Do you think weight training is only good for developing a lean body, strong muscles and a strong heart? Physical activity has been shown to help with being emotionally and mentally fit also.

While the majority of fitness research efforts focus on the physical and health benefits of exercise, there is a growing body of work demonstrating that exercise promotes wellness and mental health.

Researchers at Duke University studied people suffering from depression for 4 months and found that 60% of the participants who weight trained for 40 minutes 4 times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication. This is the same percentage rate as for those who only used medication in their treatment for depression.

You don’t have to be suffering from a clinical or diagnosed mental illness to get substantial mental health benefits from weight training. Many people exercise to boost confidence along with reducing anxiety and stress, all of which contribute to psychological health and well-being. Weight training can be viewed as a preventative or wellness activity that may actually help prevent physical and emotional conditions.

Exercise leads to an increase in energy and to better sleeping patterns, which may also explain why it is so helpful to people with depression. Low energy and poor sleep are common symptoms of depression.

The joyful feeling and the pleasure after weight training is very beneficial. 

Even though meditation and yoga are very essential in achieving balance in the mind body and soul, through the more non-traditional methods such as weight training, you also achieve optimal levels of mental health. Both meditation and weight training answer the need to have down time along with the need to quiet down and look within.

This is especially important because today people absorb more information in one day than a person in the 1400’s absorbed in an entire lifetime. Weight training today helps you stay focused, strong and in control!

Todays technology, along with the mentality of moving quicker and constantly doing things, tends to lead to people forgetting that this inward focus that weight training is necessary and vital to mental health.  

If you feel depressed, please do something about it – depression doesn’t just go away on its own. In addition to getting help from working with weights, speak to someone, see a doctor or professional counsellor.

Here at The Journey we can help to improve your mental health, take that first step, speak to the staff, begin your own Journey to wellness.