“Sudden outbreaks of movement trigger reactions in the body that interrupt the stress cycle and allow the brain to calm down, relax and concentrate on the task at hand.”
We all know that proper diet and exercise are necessary to create and maintain good physical health. But how many of us actually stop and think about the effects of eating whole foods and exercise on our mental and emotional health? Lucas Cullen did it. And if you read on, you’ll see what an incredible difference it made for him and others.
For those who have accompanied me over the years – by the way, a big thank you for this – you may remember that I once worked in the field of special education. First with small children in the Child Development Center, then in classrooms with primary school children and later with some private customers at home. Although many of the children I worked with had the same diagnoses, no two were alike. Like typical learners, every child with special needs was unique in the way they received, processed, learned, and progressed information. However, there were two things that always produced good results regardless of the child’s level of learning – diet and exercise.
I remember reading something a while ago that said vigorous exercise was the most effective “drug” for depression. Seems that this statement had some validity. An article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry on the National Institute of Health (NIH) website states: “Aerobic exercise, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. It is believed that these mood improvements are caused by an exercise-induced increase in blood flow to the brain … and to the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory formation as well as mood and motivation. ”It’s nice to have the endorsement of a prestigious paper that supports me in sharing information, but it’s really just superfluous for anyone who has tried to make healthy changes. The results speak volumes. And at the end of the day, the results are really all that matters.
The patterns I saw in the classroom weren’t just for kids. Children who showed up at school without breakfast had much greater difficulty visiting the teacher and doing their job. When the same kids were allowed to snack at their desks, most of the wobble and inattentiveness disappeared. The same applies to adults who come to work without breakfast. Whether you work physically or mentally, demands are placed on your body that need fuel to keep it functioning properly. Tiredness, headaches, irritability, brief visits to colleagues, reading the same thing over and over again, forgetting something or, conversely, doing it twice – these are just a few of the symptoms that occur when the body is not properly nourished.
As mentioned in the study, the same can be said about exercise in both age groups. The kids who just can’t sit or concentrate for long, whether they have eaten or not, find it much easier to concentrate and get their job done after a workout. Any parent or teacher locked up with kids for long periods of time can’t wait for them to go outside and run around. Sudden bursts of movement – running, jumping, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, etc. – cause reactions in the body that break the cycle of stress that you are experiencing, allowing the brain to calm down, relax, and focus on the task at hand. And when things have a positive effect on how our brains work, things like depression, mood swings, and hormonal problems also see profound improvement. Just ask Lucas Cullen.
Lucas, a Kelowna local and former semi-professional hockey player turned ultra marathon runner, has struggled with depression a lot. When he contacted me a few months ago for nutritional coaching in preparation for his first 52 km run this fall, I heard his story. How he used running to reduce depression, overcome the struggles, and create strength in those areas of his life that were lacking. Because of his success and passion for helping others, Lucas Struggles created Create Strength to help others find strength in their struggles as well. It is amazing to see how much a person can change their life and regain control over their health, not just physically but also mentally. And in order to help as many people as possible, Lucas will run the 52 km ultra marathon next month in hopes of raising $ 50,000 for mental health. Watch this short video on the story of Lucas and read the stories of the people he has helped and how you can support the movement at Struggles Create Strength. Please share with someone you know who may be having problems.
To start developing healthy eating and fitness habits, join Tanias 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook and get ready to win with your health.