Imagine going to the doctor with symptoms of depression and she hands you a new prescription: Do two sets of squats, 15 bicep curls, 10 laps around the track and call me in the morning. Though this is not (yet) an accurate picture, experts are starting to recognize that regular exercise is not only good for your mood but may help combat depression, too.
Until physicians and other healthcare providers universally prescribe exercise as an alternative treatment for depression, it’s best to turn to a group of professionals who are already in the know: physical therapists. PTs are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression and understand how the disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life.
An individualized care plan starts with a thorough assessment and detailed patient history so the PT can capture the limitations of the illness and understand the goals the patient would like to achieve. Each custom treatment plan includes some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function and to help shed the layers of depression.
For patients suffering from depression, it can be stressful and overwhelming to think about incorporating exercise into their lives either for the first time or after a long hiatus. Because the illness’ symptoms often include fatigue and loss of interest in activities, it can be difficult for patients to take that first step, both literally and figuratively. But physical therapists excel in motivating patients to perform exercises both safely and effectively. In fact, another bonus of seeing a physical therapist to get started on a new exercise program, is that he’s trained to identify other injuries or illnesses that require a special approach.
You don’t have to have depression to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the mood-boosting pastime can help anyone who might be temporarily sad or otherwise not themselves. Major life stressors—divorce, loss of a job, and death—are difficult for anyone and regular exercise is a great way to help people through a tough time.
With regular exercise, you’re guaranteed to see improvements in the following areas:
• Strength and flexibility
Even minimal changes in any of these areas could change your outlook on the day and your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed. So, what are you waiting for?
"Before I started coming to A2 I was always tired and could barely pick up or carry my grandchildren a ½ block. After the first 6 weeks of working with Kristi I got a big surprise when I took my grandchildren to a festival and carried the youngest 4 blocks before she woke up enough to walk. I then picked her up and put her on my shoulders so she could see better without effort. I was amazed at how much strength I had gained in a short time. I continue to see improvement in my strength and I’m no longer tired all the time."
"I started at A2 about mid-July and I am in the 9:00 am Friday class. A2 has opened me up to new levels of a workout. There is no “golden Standard”. Everyone goes to the best of their abilities. I feel like I can workout without being judged. In my class there are my mom, dad, aunt Lori, aunt Amber, my cousin Mandy and our newest addition Randy. Kristi is always encouraging us to give our all. She is never telling us that we aren’t doing the workout right. Instead she helps us grow by kindly telling us if we do it this way we will get more out of it and she always helps us get there. I decided to do cross country this year and I feel like I can go and be successful and strong because of my A2 workout. Thank you so much for helping me grow in my health."
"I am impressed with the personnel that worked with me during this process for my back. Danny, Shelby, & Jackie are very knowledgeable, and available for all of the questions I brought up. I appreciated the constant evaluation of my progress during the six week process. I truly enjoyed their company as well. It isn't like going to a normal doctor's office. It was a very personal experience. Best yest is that the therapy worked very well. I am very pleased with the results. My pain is almost non-existent. Thank you very much."