Exercising to help fight depression

Exercising to help fight depression

I’m lucky to work with a wide range of clients, and a number of them have told me they suffer from depression or anxiety.  Often, their reason for initially approaching me is to help break the cycle of managing their condition with pills, and regain control of their mental wellbeing through exercise.  Here’s just a few of the reasons why exercise can be an effective strategy to deal with certain mental health issues.

✔ When we exercise our bodies release chemicals called endorphins. These feel good hormones trigger a positive feeling in the body.  Completing a workout and achieving your goals has a positive mental effect, giving you more good feelings.

✔ You can improve your mental strength by improving your physical strength. Pushing through a tough workout can help build character and really give you the belief that you’re an awesome human being, which you obviously are!

✔ As you see improvements in your body it will again boost your self confidence, and your positivity.

✔ You’ll be surprised with how many other people in the gym might also feel how you do.  Building relationships with these people means you overcome your issues together. Try finding a gym partner to work out with.

✔ You’re also more likely to eat better, and science is now showing us the link between digestive health, nutrition and brain health is huge. Eating a better diet can have amazing results in overcoming stress and anxiety, when your body eats less foods that stress your gut and digestion.

✔ Finally, in October 2000, researchers at Duke University studied people suffering from depression for 4 months.  They concludedcthat 60% of the participants who weight trained for 40 minutes 4 times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication (sertraline). This is the same percentage rate as for those who only used medication in their treatment for depression.

Link to study here:

I’m in no way suggesting that going to the gym for a few hours a week is the magic bullet in curing all depression, but there’s enough evidence out there to at least make it worth considering if you’re currently struggling.  If you’d like to chat to me about this any more, feel free to get in touch. Anything we discuss of this nature will of course be in the strictest of confidence.


Consistency over Intensity

Whether your goal is to reduce fat or build muscle, being consistent with your diet is one of the best ways to guarantee progress.

Let’s look at fat loss for example…There’s no point starving yourself on 800 calories per day Monday to Friday, only to put away 4000 a day on the weekend and undo all that hard work.

This is a very simplistic way of looking at it, but when you’re too extreme with your diet it’s impossible to sustain it long enough to make a real difference.

Getting healthy and improving your physique doesn’t have to make you miserable. If you’re too strict with yourself it just means you’re more likely to give up all together.

Taking a more sensible approach is the best way to ensure long term success, and means you can still enjoy your favourite foods, rather than cutting them out altogether.

Change your habits to change your body

In a world of getting stronger, fitter and healthier, we all have our weaknesses that hinder our progress.

For the majority of people these weaknesses are habits, habits that need to be broken. A habit is a behavioural pattern that near enough becomes involuntary, so we perform it without thinking about it. For some this can be coming home from work, putting the TV on and grabbing a cuppa and a biscuit. Or feeling that mid-morning slump at work and grabbing a sugary treat for a “pick-me-up”

The change needs to come by doing something different, and getting out of the groove you’re currently in. For most people, changing their nutritional and physical habits is the way forward.

But how do you do it? How do you do it so you don’t end up feeling miserable, crashing and ending up binging on everything in sight?

The answer – Take it slow!

With nutrition you need to make small changes and slowly remove the bad habits, while replacing them with good habits. You’re far more likely to succeed with this approach, instead of going from one extreme to the other.

With exercise it is the same. You don’t go from zero sessions a week to training 6 times a week.

It’s way too extreme! Instead for both the nutrition and training you should start with something manageable. Allow some flexibility, and progressively over time you work on replacing your current routine with a new, healthier habit that will benefit your goals.

Think of some small, manageable changes you could make to your daily routine which will help you to break the habit, and become healthier.

As always, feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions, or need any help.


Let’s talk about the scales. There’s a whole debate going on at the moment… don’t use them, do use them! For me I think they’re a great tool to use – if your goal is to track fat loss or building muscle. They’re great to measure if you’re going in the right direction or whether you need to change things, like increasing/decreasing your food intake, or other aspects of your training.


There are 2 sides to this story though. I want to go over how the scales should be just 1 factor to look at rather than the only factor. I’ve had clients go up in weight or their weight hasn’t moved but inches have dropped, strength has increased, they feel better etc. This is because of muscle. If you’re gaining muscle while dropping fat, which can be done, then this might potentially happen.


It’s also important not to get obsessed and jump on the scales every day, hoping to see the numbers move in the right direction.  There are so many reasons why your weight can fluctuate on a day to day basis. This makes weighing yourself every day a complete waste of time for most people. You’re only going to get demoralised if you’ve worked hard in the gym all week and stuck to your diet plan, only to see the numbers have moved in the wrong direction.  Try weighing yourself on a weekly, or even fortnightly basis, to get a clearer indication of your progress.


To summarise – scales should be used, but along with a few other factors:


🔴 Is your strength increasing?


🔴 Are inches dropping on the tape measure?


🔴 Do you feel better and have more energy?


🔴 Are you sleeping better?


🔴 Do your clothes fit better?


If you tick a few of these as well, then don’t stress.  Keep doing what you’re doing, and continue the process to a stronger body with less fat and better health.


I hope you’ll all find this useful

6 Reasons why women should weight train as part of their fitness programme

It’s a common misconception that by lifting weights, women will somehow bulk up and look masculine.  The myth that weight training will make you bulky and look manly is exactly that – a MYTH!

Take a look in any gym or fitness centre and you’ll typically see a divide. The weight room occupied primarily by men, with women more likely to be using the cardio equipment.  I understand the prospect of training with weights can seem scary at first, but you owe it to yourself to make sure you have the most effective workout each time you come to the gym

So here are my Top 6 Reasons why you should be Weight Training;

1- It will make you STRONG

2- You will get ‘TONED’

3- The above two will make you CONFIDENT

4- The challenge required to Weight Train will make you STRONG MINDED

5- Over time you’ll lose fat, gain muscle, and your body will become FIRMER

6- Combine all the above and I can guarantee you will feel EMPOWERED

I’m a firm advocate in weight training with myself and my clients, both male and female… However mastering movements and learning how to actually work the muscle is something only a few actually know how to do.

I’ve seen it first hand with members of the gym hopping on to a machine that’s available, going through the movement without any real control and intention. I see a lot of people using machines that are set up incorrectly for them and choosing weights that barely challenge them.

The saying ‘If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you’ is very much true.

Following generic workout plans won’t always produce the result you want, everything should be bespoke and suited to your goals, and your current ability level.

Do you like the sound of the above 6 things that Weight Training will do for you, but unsure what to do or how to do it? Get in touch today for some free advice, or to book a session where we can go over the basics.