Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exercise Lifts More Than Bums!

Since re-opening Trim Up 4 years ago, I've often wondered why so many of my members from the old place who I've been in contact with, don't exercise like they used to. And why so many women don't keep up with regular exercise, especially when they seem to have plenty of time once the kids have grown up. These are intelligent women who realize the importance of exercise for basic health and wellness.

Sometimes I believe it is a case of imbalanced hormones, stemming from menopause and lack of estrogen and testosterone, that causes fatigue and low motivation. I have known many women who have been prescribed antidepressants (myself included) because of their symptoms when all they needed was hormone replacement therapy.

Which leads me to why I think so many women aren't making time to take care of their health through fitness....Depression.  This is becoming more common in women over age 40, especially with all of
our economical chaos and uncertainty with jobs and retirement. Women tend to be worriers anyway and many are carrying more of a financial burden in their families these days. It can be easy to get bogged down by job stress and not take time for ourselves, which can lead to depression.

At this age, a lot of women are dealing with aging parents, often taking on the role of caregiver. Some are helping with the care of grandchildren. Others are dealing with the empty nest and feeling a loss of indentity without an active role of being "Soccer Mom". Others are dealing with divorce or struggling personal relationships.

And then there is grief from the loss of a loved one or living with an ill family member or having some medical issues yourself. And lastly, there are those who suffer from recurring, hereditary depression.

It is ironic that the last thing any of these women want to do is exercise but that is exactly what they need the most! Exercise has been proven to help treat mild to moderate depression, often in place of medication.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling, similar to that of morphine. That feeling helps to produce a positive and energizing outlook on life. Regular exercise will reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.

There are few people who make it through life without some periods of at least mild depression just due to pressures of everyday stress. The best thing to do is to make regular exercise a part of your routine, to keep
up your mental as well as physical health. Group exercise is even more beneficial, because of the strong social support.

Just like diabetes, that needs to be managed with proper diet and exercise, depression is a condition that needs to be recognized and treated.  One day insurance companies and employers will wise up and make fitness programs reimbursable and doctors will prescribe exercise instead of drugs!