How exercise can nurture your mental health
Mental Health is something that we are probably all aware of but don’t speak about enough! This week is Mental Health week and at EHPlabs it’s something that sits close to our hearts and something we believe should be spoken about.
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Many of our EHP family staff and athletes have had mental health struggles whether it be coping with stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia or something else. We know that mental health struggles may not be something you can avoid but there are ways to manage and support your health both physically and mentally.
Phil Nwosu is part of our EHP all stars family and he has been so kind to share his story and what he does to not only support his mental health but to ensure he lives a healthy and happy life. Phil is an incredibly inspiring individual who lost his left leg in a car accident 5 years ago. Phil could have chosen to take on the victim mentality but he instead rises above and continues to see the bright side of life every single day.
Tell us a little more about your story?
13 years ago I relocated from Nigeria to Australia with my mum and sister. Life in Nigeria was a bit tricky in the sense of security, jobs and education. My dad relocated to Australia 7 years before we did, so life without a good connection to him was difficult.
5 years ago I was heading back home after a long night shift at around 4-5am in the morning. I lost control of the car, hit the barrier and the car flipped multiple times. At the time I also had a friend in the car and thankfully he came out okay. As a result of my injuries my left leg had to be amputated below the knee. I think when the accident happened it was like God’s way of telling me to step back, think about life in the bigger picture, you have to seek bigger things. Fast forward to today and I have competed in bodybuilding, powerlifting, ‘The Spartan Show’, and I’m starting my journey to the paralympics. The way I see it, the accident is a blessing in disguise. If it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have accomplished all the things I have today.
What does happiness mean to you?
Self happiness is the simplest word yet it is misunderstood by many. What makes another person happy shouldn’t be what makes YOU happy. I get that social media makes it very hard sometimes to find out what truly makes you happy without compromising others, but you can’t put all the blame on social media. It is also your responsibility to find your happiness, your joy, what drives you to be better? What are you good at? What’s your motivation, or your why? No one can give you those answers but you. You can’t cover your fake happiness forever because you want to blend in amongst the crowd. It’s a burden that is very heavy to carry for a long time.
I didn’t know what I was living for until I had my life changing moment. That very moment, it all became clear to me that if I didn’t accept my situation and find happiness in my new life, it was likely I would never get out of that hospital bed physically, mentally or emotionally.
I choose to live life to the absolute fullest and appreciate the beauty that God has created. Life is too short to think ‘what if’ all the time. Try, after try, after try is always better than not trying at all, so I don’t choose to sit on the side lines of ‘what if’s’. Just try!
I find I am at my happiest when I train or in any sporting competition. To me sports are not just physical. Sports prepare you for everyday life. The same way you lose a game and get up and shake the opponent's hand can be translated to the same way you dust yourself off and try again after you fail. On the flip side, the same way you rejoice with your team and your coach after a win can be translated to when you make it after not giving up and providing for your family or friends. I could go on and on about this particular subject because it took something out of me quite literally to finally understand what HAPPINESS truly means.
No one can make you happy but YOU! Find your WHY. Find your HAPPINESS.
Stay safe, Phil. Why is exercise not just good for physical health but also mental health? We know that regular exercise can be good for us physically, and it can help to prevent lifestyle diseases. But did you know the powerful benefits exercise can have on your mental health?
Now more than ever we are in need of strategies to help improve our mental health and numerous studies show that exercise can assist with managing depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental health issues. The relationship between mood and exercise was established in the 1970’s but it is only more recently that studies have been conducted into the benefits of exercise and the treatment of mental health disorders. These studies have concluded that the mental health benefits of training are clear and impactful!
Country Specific Global Mental Health Resources
Exercise can be used as preventative and/or as an adjunctive treatment therapy. We now know that regular exercise is a powerful protective tool against the onset of depressive disorders. One study, conducted over an 18 year period, found those who exercised regularly were at lower risk of developing a depressive disorder than those who didn’t exercise or ceased exercising after a period of time. In respect to assisting the management of depression, a meta-analysis of clinical trials discovered, that by comparison to no treatment, exercise reduced depression equally as well as cognitive therapy and is therefore considered an established treatment for depression, and it is typically evaluated as an adjunctive treatment to pharmacotherapy or psychological therapy.
Exercise has also been shown to improve stress management, general well-being, and self-esteem. Including exercise in your long term lifestyle may help to prevent the onset of mental health conditions and/or assist with management of symptoms and treatment.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS BEST?
For treating depression and anxiety specifically, most studies have evaluated aerobic exercise (aka cardio) as superior to resistance (aka strength or weight training) or mixed exercise approaches. We suggest finding an exercise that you enjoy as this will make it a lot more likely for you to partake in the training. There is no doubt that the benefits of exercise are overwhelming! It plays a key role in keeping us physically and mentally healthy and is a vital tool in the fight against mental health conditions, which are on the rise! The key is reaching out, getting in touch with those professionals that can help you find the approach that is right for you, and simply just getting started.
There is no better time than now to take your physical and mental health into your own hands! Wanting more ideas on how to support your mental health? Download this free ebook with tips from our EHP athletes and activity pages to help you nurture your mental health.
Wanting more ideas on how to support your mental health? Download this free ebook with tips from our EHP athletes and activity pages to help you nurture your mental health.