The power of physical activity if often underestimated as a legitimate form of treatment for mental conditions. Too many times exercise is sensationalised as a means to achieve that perfectly ripped, lean, and bulked supermodel body. Though valid, exercise can go beyond making your physique aesthetically pleasing. In fact, partaking in exercise presents many benefits
wellbeing of your mind. However, it is not a one way street. One’s state of mind such as motivation and selfesteem play an important role in exercise and can be the difference in turning your fitness goal(s) in reality.
Now let us examine the mind and movement journey of my client, Jeremy Paton. Jeremy has been suffering from major depression in the past 6 months. According to his psychologist, his depression was triggered by the successive deaths of his parents being further compounded by low self-esteem issues arising from being obese. The psychologist mentioned that Jeremy had frequently displayed feelings of sadness, irritability over small matters, loss of interest in normal activities, restlessness and even insomnia (Mayo Clinic,
2013). To alleviate these depressive symptoms, Jeremy turned to medication prescribed by the psychologist. But, the medications were insufficient in improving his condition and
because of this Jeremy approached me for a supplementary, more natural form of treatment, exercise.
Jeremy, he showed a genuine intention to
depression and lose excess body weight. In assessing Jeremy, I adopted the
Model (TTM) and found he fits into the contemplation stage where he
is intends to make behavioural changes but is unsure how to do it
(Boston University Press, 2013). He is also unclear of physical and psychological benefits of physical activity. To intervene, I discussed the benefits of exercise with Jeremy, provided him with clear and specific guidelines for initiating an exercise program and reassured him that I’ll be there for support every step of the way.
As Jeremy began to understand how exercise can change his life, I helped him set goals using the SMART framework (Cancer Council Australia, 2011). Giving Jeremy the opportunity to set his own goals promotes accountability, making him responsible for his own success or failure (Shilts, et al., 2004). It will force him to set priorities and limit him from getting distracted in things that will not improve his condition and reach his desired level of fitness
(Swinburn, et al., 1998). Most importantly, it will serve as a guide for decision making and provide feedback to track his progress.
With goals set, Jeremy started to follow the exercise prescription I designed which consist of aerobic and anaerobic activities (mainly strength training) of intensity, frequency and duration consistent with the National Physical activity Guidelines for Australians (The
Department of Health, 2013). Based on his feedback, the first couple of weeks were tough.
Breaking away from his old, unhealthy habits of excessive eating and minimal to no exercise was difficult but was getting easier as the weeks went by. The difficulty dissipated as Jeremy
was experiencing and seeing first-hand how his new habits were not only making him look good but also feel good.
After 3 months, the severity of depressive symptoms started to weaken in line with more intense and frequent exercise activities (Black Dog Institute, 2012). Jeremy noticed that his general mood had improved partly because exercise provided a distraction from his worries and fears (Salmon,
2001). According to Jeremy, increased contact with peers and friends during exercise also provided that social support he so often lacked while being a couch potato at home (Black Dog