of Americans suffer, to some extent, from a psychological disorder.
Most prevalent among these are depression and anxiety disorders.
many years, therapy from psychologists and psychiatrists and medications
have been used to treat these disorders. Today, exercise is increasingly
being included in the treatment plans for those suffering from
studies have been done showing the benefits of exercise. Exercise
improves mood, increases self-esteem and provides a general feeling
of well being for everyone, but especially for those with psychological
is the most common mood disorder. Ten to 25 percent of women and
five to 12 percent of men will experience at least moderate levels
of depression at some time during their lives.
with neurological disorders are even more likely to experience
depression. Forty percent of those with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's
and Huntington's disease, strokes or multiple sclerosis experience
a staggering 15 percent of those who experience depression will
attempt suicide during their life. If you are experiencing depression
it's important that you check with your physician. Beneficial
treatment through psychotherapy and medication is available and
may be appropriate.
consider making exercise a part of your life. Exercise can improve
your mood and feeling of well being, and can significantly increase
your energy level.
exercise is good, so if you haven't been working out regularly,
start slowly. Walking and light gym workouts with weights are
a good place to start.
your energy level increases, gradually increase your exercise
duration and intensity. Over time, add aerobic activity like elliptical
trainers and treadmills and increase your weight lifting.
prepared for some setbacks and difficulties as you begin your
exercise program. Depression can deplete motivation so get help
to develop a structured program and seek support and encouragement
from family, friends and fellow gym-goers.
many people who suffer from depression also have problems with
chronic exhaustion, be patient and give your exercise program
time to work. You'll be surprised at the energy boost that will
occur in time.
disorders are another psychological disorder that affects many
individuals. The American Council on Exercise divides anxiety
disorders into four general types: generalized anxiety disorder,
panic disorder/agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and
Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects three to eight percent of the population.
GAD is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry about events
and situations. Individuals with GAD may experience symptoms of
restlessness, lack of energy, muscle soreness from tension, irritability
Disorder produces recurrent panic attacks where a person experiences
anxiety, apprehension, terror, an inability to breathe and heart
pain. Agoraphobia is the avoidance of places or situations where
panic attacks either have occurred or are likely to occur.
Disorder produces recurrent and intrusive obsessions or compulsions
in the individuals it affects. The person, while realizing these
obsessions or compulsions are irrational, is unable to control
Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia produces anxiety to social situations
including having to perform in front of other people. Affected
individuals typically are forced to avoid the feared situation.
depression, the four anxiety disorders are often treated through
therapy and/or medication. Also, as with depression, exercise
will help produce a more relaxed state and decrease anxiety. Aerobic
exercise and light weight training are generally best and progress
slowly, increasing duration and intensity as allowed.
some assistance to develop a highly structured exercise program
that emphasizes consistent realization of short-term goals. Since
those with anxiety disorders may tire easily, morning exercise
may be the best.
realize that there will typically be an increase in heart rate
and a shortness of breath while participating in exercise. This
is normal and, while it should be monitored, is to be expected.
apprehension is also common with everyone when they begin an exercise
program, whether or not they have an anxiety disorder.
you're experiencing problems with depression or an anxiety disorder,
please seek help. Consult the proper medical professionals to
see if therapy or medication is right for you.
consider adding a program of regular, structured exercise to your
life. I've seen many people significantly improve the quality
of their lives and reduce their levels of depression and anxiety
happier, healthier life may be just a few workouts away.
Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the co-owner of the Los
Alamos Fitness Center.