Did you know that one in five Canadians living in Canada in 2017 suffer from some sort of mental illness? That is twenty percent of the population that is being held back from something they are told they can’t control.
However, what if they can control it? What if instead of being put on medication there is something all natural, that is built in a gym rather than a lab.
That, my friends, is fitness!
Fitness is far more than going to the gym and doing some squats and push ups. Fitness is a lifestyle, and commitment that not only will better a person’s body, but their mind as well. There is no feeling more satisfying than stepping on that scale and watching the numbers go down, or lifting a weight that months ago you could’ve only imagined moving correctly.
This feeling of success and triumph is something we all desire to feel, however few actually have what it takes to accomplish.
For those that are depressed, physical activity can seem out of reach.
I mean, for some it is a challenge to get out of bed, let alone go to the gym and lift hundreds of pounds. However, with time, grit, and heart, someone suffering from depression can make fitness part of their normal everyday routine.
Before getting into the benefits of exercise and living a healthy active lifestyle, a better understanding must be built as to what it means to actually be fit. Like I stated earlier, fitness is much more than going to the gym, or walking the dog. It takes passion, the drive to overcome obstacles, and the relentless ability to never quit. There is a fire that burns in all of us, even those that are going through the darkest of times. We all have a drive that ignites us, and turns us into an unstoppable force that is ready for anything that life throws at us. We just need a spark to start the flame.
Now, in my opinion, fitness can be broken down into three subcategories, all which will lead to both physical and mental gains:
The first category is nutrition
A solid diet is a must for anyone looking to live a long, happy, and most importantly, healthy life. Making the right nutritional choices will make a person look better, feel better, and be better all around. Eating good is the key to living good, and putting solid, nutrient dense food in your body will do this. This means having a diet that is surrounded by natural, whole foods that are either plant based or animal based. Processed food are filled with added sugar and sodium, that will make you feel bloated, tired, and sick. Thus why eating healthy is so important when trying to live a happy, healthy life.
Working out is the second most important aspect
There is a certain amount of satisfaction that you feel after a grueling workout. When you are sweaty, exhausted, sore, and all you want to do is collapse on the ground you think to yourself, ‘When I started this workout I felt like I could barely move.’ See, that is the beauty of exercise, in five years of working out I have never seen anyone leave the gym in a worse mood than they were in when they entered.
Everyone knows when you workout you will build muscle and increase your stamina, however there is something that occurs in our brains as well. When we exercise our brain views this as stress, as we are putting our bodies through one hell of a fight. Due to this it will than release a hormone called BDNF, which stands for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor which acts as a switch for the brain.
For this reason we tend to feel clear and happy after every workout.
The last aspect of being fit
This is something we may not realize or fully understand at first, and that is functionality. How are you supposed to be happy when you can barely make it up the stairs without gasping for air? Or you can’t even tie your shoes without injuring your back? This is why in my opinion functionality is the most important aspect of being fit, anyone can bench press a certain weight or run a specific distance but what good is that if you still can’t do simple everyday activities.
Now if you combine all three of these aspects you will feel the full benefits of living a healthy active lifestyle to counteract depression. To explain, in order to feel good mentally we must also feel good physically.
Now, have you ever ate a really big meal that is more grease than food? Then your stomach begins to sound like a war zone and you have to sprint to a bathroom within an hour. This doesn’t lead to a happy mood. Putting healthy food into your body will assure you have what you need to feel great, and live great. A proper diet is seventy percent of the equation when it comes to having a good body, it will also increase your energy levels and appearance.
One major effect of mental illness is lack of energy
One major effect of depression and other mental illnesses is lack of energy, thus why healthy foods are essential in counteracting that. As for exercise, when you feel depressed you often feel down, and struggle to look at yourself in the mirror. When you begin to workout you will start to put on muscle rather quickly, for those in the fitness industry this is known as “Beginner gains.”
Putting on a bit of muscle will increase your posture, confidence, and overall happiness. This will significantly decrease your likelihood of suffering from mental illness and you will start to live a better, more exciting life.
Now, in terms of functionality one must be functional to live life to the fullest, therefore counteracting the depression. If your body is able to do the activities you love, such as camping, playing with your kids, and so on, you will be a much happier you. No pill or therapist is able to do that for you, you must do it yourself.
If you want something in life you must work for it, and the same thing can be said when fighting against depression. You must be willing to change, and do whatever it takes to reach your end goal.
Our society has made great progress in accepting mental illness and raising awareness. However, society has attempted to fix it by forcing pill after pill down people’s throat rather than looking for a long term solution. That solution can be fitness, and living a lifestyle that not only works on physical health but mental as well.