Most of us have a good idea of how exercise makes us feel better; it makes us feel accomplished, keeps us energized, and it releases our happy hormones to change the biochemistry of our brains. But exercise can have a greater effect than just feeling happier in people with mental health conditions such as depression or seasonal affective disorder, it can actually help deal with these conditions and allow people to have a more positive well-being.
Depression is a highly publicized mental health condition, but it is a lot more than persistent feelings of sadness. Depression manifests itself in different ways and can take away your passion for previously enjoyed activities or negatively impact things that you use to define yourself and your happiness. Depression can impact anyone including youth, older adults, those living with chronic illnesses or substance use issues, and those going through big life changes.
Approximately 8% of all adults will experience major depression at some point in their lives, with many more going through acute bouts of depression. Depression has had a growing focus on it in recent years, which has allowed people experiencing depression to find help and support to manage it. Physical activity is one of the leading treatments someone can use to help manage depression due to the release of ‘happy’ hormones and endorphins, as well as increasing feelings of self-worth and providing social support outlets. Self perceived quality of life increases exponentially when including physical activity into daily routines – as little as 30 minutes of physical activity per day will permanently change the way in which our bodies produce happy hormones to make us feel better.
As the season is switching over to colder and darker days, seasonal affective disorder (also known as winter blues or February blahs) is common place in northern bound countries such as Canada. It makes up about 10% of depression cases in Canada, and mostly affects adults under 50 years old. The main risk factors of seasonal affective disorder are the lack of sunlight and vitamin D, as well as lower amounts of exercise and poor sleeping habits due to the change of daylight in winter. Some ways to help prevent or manage seasonal affective disorder include: vitamin D supplementation, physical activity, getting sunlight throughout the days, keeping a healthy sleep routine, being in social situations (such as hanging out with friends), and getting outside to be active!
Now this all brings us to chat about Movember, the great movement that started in 2003 and helps to fund projects for men’s health that includes raising awareness on prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention in men. It has grown from sporting a steezy stash to being active throughout the month for Move for Movember, which is great opportunity to see how physical activity positively impacts mental health. Move for Movember was created to get people out walking or running during this month; the set target is 60 km in the month, 1 km for every man that commits suicide every minute around the world. Suicide accounts for 24% of all death in those ages 15-24, and suicide rates are 4x higher in men than in women. The more we can raise awareness about mental health conditions such as depression and create support outlet for those struggling with thoughts of suicide, the more we can prevent premature deaths. Open up a dialog with people in your life and let them know that they and everyone else matters and there is always a place to find help.
If anyone would like to donate their time or money to a great cause, follow this link to donate to our team’s Movember page ( https://moteam.co/okanagan-peak-performance), with all proceeds going to the Movember charity to help with men’s health, prostate and cancer awareness, and depression and suicide awareness. Or if you would like some more information about Movember, read all about them at https://ca.movember.com/?home . If anyone would like some more information on mental health conditions in general, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website ( https://cmha.bc.ca/ ).
And finally, with November coming to a close, I am offering anyone who is interested in learning more, 1 free strategy session (coffee included) and 2 free private training sessions. The first 2 people to contact Okanagan Peak Performance Inc via phone or email before the end of November will get this deal! However, please keep in mind that all the coaches here at Okanagan Peak Inc are here for your physical and mental well-being and will always be available to talk.