Skip to main content

Exercise - Cranium Benefits

There's a lot of research, into the effectiveness of exercise for treating depression. I do believe that in my own case, it's definitely helping, but it's not always for the expected symptomatic reasons. For instance I do not subscribe to the train of thought, that telling people to go for a run, will make them 'better'. There are many reasons why someone who has low self esteem, will feel invigorated by leaving the house and doing more exercise, but it doesn't mean that will cure depression. 

In its many guises and forces, depression is not 'fixed' by getting outdoors and exerting yourself. Medication is necessary for many people to get moving every day and this shouldn't be a negative thing. There are loads of arguments for and against meds too, but at this time I am not personally taking anything to help me climb out of the holes, when they appear. Having watched friends being switched from one med brand to another, purely because the current locum thought it would be okay, and the devastating effects it would frequently have on their ability to get shit done - I am holding off from this, at the moment. 

I also spent most of my childhood and teenage years on anti-convulsant medication for epilepsy, side effects of which are.. you guessed it - Manic Depression / Bi Polar Disorder. I don't blame my parents for this. I had some major seizures as a child and they were advised by a specialist, that I would need to be on them for life. When I eventually left home and was in charge of my own destiny, I took myself off them - had a couple of years of infrequent giant seizures, then they just stopped. My body popping episodes decreased the more I ate, the more I slept, the less stress I gave myself. Learning to look after myself a bit better has enabled me to be free of meds and seizures since 2001. I am lucky.. some folks have 100 fits a day and will be on a cocktail of meds they can never get away from.

My point is.. where the brain is concerned, there is no 'one size fits all' approach that you can take. What will work well for me one month, is not so good the next, but I am far from alone in how depression shifts and moves. I notice that on weeks where I exercise loads and don't drink, I feel a lot better than weeks where I do less exercise. I recognise (albeit 42 years in) that Alcohol triggers my episodes. I have come to realise that this is not new and that I have suffered with depressive bouts for many years. 

I would previously subscribe to the 'one week bender' as a fix to shut down the bullshit in my head and move all issues to the left for a while. It doesn't work. It builds up and then you crash eventually. At least now that I am exercising a lot and not drinking regularly, I find it easier to regulate and notice the symptoms - but it's not a fix. I still feel like shit occasionally, but less regularly than before. I can't sleep well again at the moment, but this will pass again soon and Pops has promised to come and sit on me at 10pm each night, to help me wind down the brain. Dark room therapy.

Its probably fair to say that in many instances it alleviates some types of low mood, but if you have a chemical imbalance that is causing you severe depressive bouts then exercise can be beneficial as part of a range of treatments.

Potentially, using exercise to overcome Depression or Anxiety could help you with a few things... 

- Encourages you to be up and more active, getting dressed and out of the house
- Meet other people and start conversations if joining groups / classes
- Knacker you out, so that you eventually are forced to sleep
- Give yourself a sense of achievement and pride when you see yourself getting better at your chosen sport / exercise class

I read the fact sheet below from the Black Dog Institute and a few bits of this made sense to me, so I thought I would share it in case it's helpful to others. It's good to see they talk about exercise being a 'helpful strategy alongside other treatments', rather than being the answer. 

Like the recent sharing of the image of trees v pills, please don't try to categorise how your fix works and what suits you will suit all. If that were the same for all elements of life, we'd all be called 'Bob', wear suits and go back in our boxes each night.. We're all individuals with differing reasons, thoughts and issues - It would be great if everyone could learn to embrace the differences and accept the combined lack of understanding. We are all learning together xx

Additional Posts You May Enjoy

Adventures in Girona: Winter Training Camp

It's taken a while to come down from the buzz of this camp, to try to put into words the boost which the experience has given me. To be fair, its probably gonna take a while longer for it all to sink in still, but I'll try to give you a slice of how it went, to tide you over until I have got my head back into gear and worked my way through all the footage.

In January, I was totally lucked out, to be given the opportunity to join the Adventure Syndicate ladies, in Spain for a week long Winter Training Camp, with Lee Craigie, Emily Chappell and coach John Hampshire, within the grounds of Girona Cycling. As well as being led by this incredible team, the group of ladies participating alongside me, were a force to be reckoned with.

Do you ever sign up for something, with anticipation that its going to be pretty cool, only to find that you have by some strange fate, found yourself in the middle of a complete game changer? This was my initial thought on day one and over the course o…

Calling All Ploggers

We're all finding ourselves surrounded by more and more brands and channels making us aware of the rising plastic pollution problems. Most of us have been trying to recycle for years, but there is still too much plastic ending up in landfill, or worse across our landscapes and in our seas. Our European cousins in Sweden are ahead of the game as usual with their efforts to clean up and have been combining their love of the outdoors, exercise and being generally good humans and cleaning up after each other.. Behold a new phenomenon - Plogging! Erik Ahlström started the Plogging movement, which is a combination of litter picking and jogging, when he moved to Stockholm from the Åre ski resort. He created the website Plogga to help organise events in 2016 and it has been growing internationally since. The Mindful Movement Club recently had a beach walk and clean up session at the beginning of summer near Shoeburyness, but interest in this proactive way to get exercise and clean our enviro…

Bike Week - Not just for Newbies

After months of staring at my bike and thinking about getting back to my commuter days, I finally bit the bullet yesterday and got my pedals turning again. Its been almost a year since my accident and its fair to say that I have not been feeling too cool about the prospect of dancing the wheels between the trucks and buses on route to work again. But I haven't wanted to lose the bike, or the choice, I just had a massive confidence drop in my ability to feel okay about getting back out there.
Truth is, I'm still not totally cool with it, but I am getting better. Following the old bike getting written off by the insurance company, I have been able to purchase a replacement Genesis Road bike (Ruby), but I still don't have the balls to use it. I don't want to be on the drops in traffic and this has led to me keeping it in storage, rather than putting it back out on the road. So I am dabbling again with my single speed PlugOne Charge (Old Blue) as its a familiar friend and…