by Stacey Kam | Staff Writer
The holiday season is often a stressful time: the pressure of spending extra money on gifts, trying to make sure everyone is happy, prepping for out of town guests, … The list can seem daunting. The holidays can also be a letdown. Months of planning and anticipation and then, in the blink of an eye, another year has passed. While our bellies may be full from overindulgent holiday meals, research suggests that one way to beat back stress and bust through “the blues” is through exercise.
“There is no question that mental health and physical health absolutely go hand in hand,” says Craig Lewin of FitCorp, the owner of Busy Body Fitness and Fitness HQ. Both retail chains with multiple locations throughout DFW provide expertise and a full array of home gym equipment. “Once you get yourself in a workout routine, it always makes you feel better. You have a cleaner energy, a better attitude and you become way more productive. What’s most important though is that the endorphins that get released while training and after absolutely bring your stress level way down. It just makes you feel so alive.”
Mayo Clinic statistics support Lewin’s theory that regular exercise helps ease depression in a number of ways which may include releasing those “feel good” brain chemicals, endorphins. Exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from returning once someone is feeling better.
Other psychological and emotional benefits of exercise include helping you:
• Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence.
• Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
• Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others.
• Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy.
So, if we know it helps, why don’t we do it?
Regional Fitness Specialist Lara Price of Orange Theory Fitness says many people have a negative outlook on exercise. They know they should do it and know it has many benefits but aren’t motivated or may get bored trying to do it on their own. “Working out in a group setting can ease this negativity and get you going on the right track,” says Price. “A group setting can be fun and offers a variety of benefits you might miss out on.”
Price says some of the benefits of group exercise classes like Orange Theory offers include exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effective workout designed by a certified professional, a consistent exercise schedule that will not bore you, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.
“You don’t have to come up with the workout,” she says. “You just show up and follow your coach. If you are bored with your current exercise routine, mixing it up with group exercise may be just what you need to get you excited, motivated and back on track.”
Orange Theory coach, Debbie Breihan is one of those motivators. “There are many reasons why I enjoy being an Orange Theory coach. For me it’s about helping members achieve their fitness goals. I love watching members come out of their comfort zones – training in ways they never thought they could. Each day is a new fitness journey – doing one more rep, increasing their speed, becoming more confident in their athleticism. The best compliment is when I see members’ bodies transform and confidence levels increase,” she says.
Lewin tells his clients that a home gym is only good if you use it (for something other than a place to hang clothes!) FitCorp even sends a personal trainer on house calls to help clients learn to use their equipment properly and maximize their workouts. Many of Lewin’s longtime clients find that they enjoy having a home gym and also a venue for group exercise.
Regardless, the simple fact is that exercise is good for you. “We all have some form of stress in our lives and must have an outlet,” says Lewin. “Working out makes you feel stronger, both physically and mentally, and ready to attack the world with a positive attitude. And let’s face it. We could all use a little bit more positivity in life!”
“I strongly feel there is a direct correlation between one’s mental health and their physical well being. When taking part in a regimented exercise program, your body’s internal workings run more efficiently and effectively. One will experience increased energy, increased focus and renewed vitality when exercising regularly.
A great side effect of regular exercise is the physical change in one’s body. Increased strength, lean body mass, flexibility, fat burn and toning are all achievable results when exercising consistently….Unquestionably having a positive body image helps self confidence and self esteem. We see it every day at Orange Theory Fitness!”
– Shane Adams, Regional Owner, Orange Theory Fitness