BY MATTHEW EVANGELISTA
Therapy is important to a healthy mind, but just as important is a healthy diet and plenty of activity. Research has shown that exercising can improve mental health, and improved mental health can result in a healthy lifestyle.
“A lot of times it is those around them who notice before they do how much exercise is changing them for the better, especially with activities of daily living or that they personally notice how much happier they feel since starting to exercise,” said Josh Terry, a personal trainer in Kitchener who has been certified for over 11 years. He also has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a masters in osteopathic manipulative sciences.
Terry notices everyday as a personal trainer that the happiest and most confident individuals push themselves to be better.
Evidence from studies involving clinical samples indicates that the psychological benefits associated with exercise are comparable to gains found with standard forms of psychotherapy. Hence, for healthy individuals the principal psychological benefit of exercise may be that of prevention, whereas in those suffering from mild to moderate emotional illness, exercise may function as a means of treatment, according to a study conducted by John S. Raglin, professor of kinesiology at Indiana University Bloomington, for the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
Another study from Stockholm University College of Physical Education and Sport in Sweden concluded that individuals who exercised at least two to three times a week experienced significantly less depression, anger, cynical distrust and stress than those exercising less frequently or not at all. Furthermore, regular exercisers perceived their health and fitness to be better than less frequent exercisers did.
“I know this is difficult for some, because individuals who identify with depression typically have a lack of motivation to do anything, but I find that once I work through the underlying emotional stuff, and they start to get into a better state, then I find that incorporating even 10 minutes of physical activity into their routine is possible,” said Leanne Sawchuk, a registered psychotherapist in Kitchener and graduate of York University with almost a decade of experience in her field.
Working out is also a great substitute for anti-depressants or getting off anti-depressants. Even light activity, like yoga, is a great natural activity to keep your body and mind active, said Sawchuk.
Aside from psychotherapy Sawchuk is an art therapist. This therapy is another form of activity that keeps the mind active, helps people express themselves and is a substitute for people who can’t or don’t like working out.
“Sometimes people with disorders such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), find articulating their thoughts into words really challenging. Going through their experience saying it to me is hard so we work through art instead,” she said.
Studies done on the effectiveness of art therapy have been positive. The results of a study done on female breast cancer patients at Umea University in Sweden showed that art therapy enhanced the effectiveness of a patient’s psychotherapy, improving their coping resources.
“I think all health-care professionals need to work together within our scope of practice,” said Terry.