Fitness is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. And there’s plenty of evidence linking mental health and exercise. People who exercise regularly have added protection against depression, tend to deal with anxiety better and also get better sleep. Studies show exercise even works similarly to meditation to increase wellbeing.
Here’s what a couple of our tribe have to say: (then have a read below to see the science behind it all)
“After going through a very difficult time in my life I decided I needed to do something to help me feel better not just for me but for my amazing daughter. I plucked up the courage to join the 161 killer stairs on a Sunday feeling very unfit and self conscious and with low self esteem I was more than nervous. I’ve no idea why as I was welcomed with open arms. I started to go to the bootcamp on a Friday with my daughter in tow she loved it as much as I did before I knew it we were doing 3 classes a week and I was feeling so much better about myself. I can not thank Antony and Danielle enough they fixed me and gave Grace her mummy back we can not recommend Trailblazer bootcamps enough i just wish they would move to Huddersfield so i can join in again”
“After giving birth to my little girl 16 months ago and suffering with post natal depression, I never thought I would have time to go to the gym or exercise classes. But my friend Kirsty told me about the Trailblazer bootcamps and I was intrigued to see what it was about. At first I was apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to keep up as I was no way near fit enough but Antony was so supportive and only asked that I pushed myself to my own ability, regardless of what others were doing. I immediately loved going to these classes and I had found a way of channelling my post natal depression. I will admit I was unsure at first but now I can definitely say now I am addicted and I love each and every class in it’s on special way. After a few months of feeling so low I had a new found path for personal time. After only a few months of joining Trailblazer my post natal depression soon reduced and I felt so much relief in my home life, as a new mom and my new found love for exercise. I will admit I am a pansy, southerner and hate but cold but I even found myself still going over winter (maybe only once a week) but that was good for me, as I hate the cold! I feel Trailblazer has helped me personally with my post natal depression, get fitter and gain a new confidence, with the addition of course of many new friends for life.”
LYNDSAY (AKA Ninja Warrior):
“4 years ago when I met Antony I was lost and my mental health was at an all time low. 4 years later after attending his personal training sessions, one of the “originals” to join him at the killer stairs and now taking part in Trailblazer bootcamps it has undoubtedly helped me to find me again. It’s not just any bootcamp it’s a Trailblazer bootcamp which is lead by someone who believes you can change through exercise, you meet similar minded people who become your friends and inspire you along the way. Love Ninja Warrior (you also get your own nickname too ?)”
“I started Trailblazer bootcamp nearly a year ago, at that time I had very low self esteem, Trailblazer bootcamps have made me feel stronger physically and mentally.”
“I have a son with special needs and as a lot of special needs parents know this can become a very lonely time and you can become stuck in a rut. I can honestly say that exercising with these lovely people not only increased my fitness but made me walk taller and I became more confident in myself. My son could join me, which was fantastic as I find it hard to find a sitter in my area. We were both welcomed with open arms and it helped us both grow socially, being able to talk to others!! I cannot that Antony and Danielle enough for their understanding and the odd kick up my backside, it changed our lives for the better”
“I’ve been training with Trailblazer classes on and off for over two years now. I originally started after a break up from a long term relationship to help me feel better about myself and to get fit again. I quickly became addicted and was training 3 or 4 times awake. I loved the encouragement from everyone. I felt like part of something, like we were a family and this helped me a lot to feel better about myself. After training for about a year I had to stop training because of health issues, I also split from my new partner and lost a close family member. I ended up in a really dark place. I wasn’t eating, training, missing work. I had a breakdown and ended up suffering with depression and anxiety. Everything seemed hopeless. During this time Antony kept in touch encouraging me to get back training. Eventually after nearly a year I started to come back to classes and everyone welcomed me back. It was hard as I felt like I was unfit again but everyone was so supportive especially Antony, Danielle and my training partner. I train twice a week at the minute and this is helping me to manage the anxiety and depression without having to resort to medication. It gives me a focus for the week knowing i can let all out when I’m training. I have put back on the weight that I lost in such an unhealthy way in just a week. My appetite is normal again and I’m sleeping better on a night now too. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without the Trailblazer family and all there support. Training really does make a difference to mental health, it’s a natural way to manage it and everyone of any age and ability can take part in all of the classes and bootcamps. I would definitely recommend to anyone”
“I heard about Sunday steps almost a year ago when my daughter asked me to take her, we went together and we loved it but that’s when I found out about Trailblazer bootcamps. With severe depression and anxiety I found it difficult to make that step, I felt overweight and had never done exercise before. I thought I would show myself up, I felt self-conscious and embarrassed… Taking that step was the best thing I’ve ever done! I met so many wonderful people that support and encourage you. The workouts are hard but I left feeling amazing and wanting to do more as every Bootcamp has different formats it’s not the same thing each week and every time I felt fitter and happier by the day! Almost a year later I’m 3 stone lighter 4 dress sizes down but most important… I am no longer on tablets for depression or anxiety… I can honestly say it changed my life!”
“I suffered with depression, and also with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the past. SAD is a depression-like state when your body doesn’t get enough natural light or vitamin D. Since starting Trailblazer I’ve not had any of the symptoms. I don’t get SAD anymore – I am constantly outside exercising and my body gets what it needs. I feel great in body and mind.”
“After a long hard days at work, the summer is over, the cold weather sets in wind, rain, snow. The body automatically goes into hibernation mode you become tired and make up excuses. I started going to Trailblazer bootcamps a year ago, the adrenaline and the rush what comes to you gives you a new lease of life, the atmosphere of everyone around you pushing you to reach your goals is amazing making new friends and becoming a family is the best experience for me. Well done Antony, you do an amazing job.”
So how does it work?
Well, we’re no doctors here at Trailblazer, but we do have personal experience. Here’s what we know:
When you exercise you release the feel good chemicals called ‘endorphins’. These natural chemicals produced in your body interact with receptors in your brain to help you feel focused, less impacted by pain and put you in a better mood.
In fact, endorphins have a lot in common with prescription anti-anxiety drugs and opiate painkillers. While it might seem scary to know that endorphins work in a similar way to mood-controlling drugs like morphine, rest assured they provide the benefits without any of the risks.
Exercise is one of the most endorphin-boosting things we can do. Some of the ways that exercise releases endorphins and therefore improves your mood include:
• Increasing self-esteem; we feel good about taking care of our own health
• Giving you a sense of accomplishment as you progress
• Increasing energy levels and helping you sleep more soundly
• Keeping you motivated to keep trying and improving in the future
• Leaving you with a more optimistic, positive and energised outlook on life.
According to a study (link) that looked at research from over one million adults, people who were the least fit were 75% more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.
Another study snappily titled ‘Neurobiological effects of exercise on major depressive disorder: A systematic review’ found out something we’ve always known at Trailblazer – that exercise can also be used to treat depression.
And as if you needed more reasons to get down for those burpees, this study from the University of Sydney found that the brain function improves when muscle tone does. The study looked at older adults with dementia, but the results are clear for everyone. People who exercise have more brain power and a lower risk of depression.
Ant’s top 5 tips
Combat SAD – try a lunchtime walk or jog outside or come to one of our classes or bootcamps
Strong social support is important for those with depression, so try joining a group exercise class. You can’t get much more supportive than our Trailblazers (Just see what Kirsty has to say above), so come along to a class, see how you feel and take it from there.
Find an exercise or class you enjoy – you are much more likely to stick to it.
Make sure you get enough variety – being bored is just an excuse to stop and your brain won’t thank you. Our classes are different every week to help keep things interesting.
Put it in your diary (or phone). Set a time and stick to it. We have classes every day of the week. Choose one that suits you.
Take a look at our classes now and find the one(s) to suit you.