how sport helps to deal with depression – interview with Ani Vladimirova

-How has the world changed, what does it offer us today, how have we changed our daily life?
-The world today offers us constant extreme competition. It takes place in conditions of isolation, uncertain future and difficult planning. The terrain is a lack of security in the work plan and increased care for finances. The feeling of escaping opportunities and relationships are serious obstacles. More and more people say that they cannot keep their lives in balance and participate in the constant race.
And the connection between the psyche and physical health is direct. The stability of both depends on the sustainable behavior associated with caring for each part of ourselves. When we know that we are participants in a life marathon, we also need a good charge of energy.

-Why do you say that so many people feel apathy, depression, do not believe in anything or anyone, do not feel motivated and meaningful, think catastrophically and angrily in the conditions of the new type of life?
-The pandemic required ambiguity and lack of planning, and this leads to a constant release of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Anxiety multiplies every day with the inability to have basic security. Thus the instinct for self-preservation becomes our main engine. It works at the expense of creativity, self-development, learning about opportunities and people. Isolation greatly reduces physical contact, and with it we lack oxytocin and dopamine, which give us joy, peace, desire to maintain a certain behavior. Staying in one space, migrating between the sofa, the bathroom and the refrigerator, brought inertia, boredom and a feeling of a heavy body, which loses its senses and suppresses everything with food or alcohol.
In these domestic and uncertain times, the stress axis works the most. This is the axis between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands. For example, the more cortisol the adrenal glands have due to stress, the more prone we become to a repressed general emotional background, the more critical, the more skeptical and pessimistic. The less dopamine from the mesolimbic system – the less happy moments, loss of motivation and meaninglessness. This includes many other biochemical substances such as vasopressin, corticotropin, serotonin … All of them to varying degrees are unbalanced by too long a period of stress and anxiety. This is how pandemic fatigue has led to depressive symptoms and exhaustion in many people. For all these reasons, we need to turn to ourselves and seek effective care!

-How is this supposed to happen?
-First of all, let us realize that our body is a very powerful weapon through which we can ventilate negative emotions. Sport is an indispensable food for recharging to deal with anxiety and depressive episodes.
The relationship between physical activity and the frequency with which a person can reach depressive states is quite clear. The more often we load our body, the less likely we are to “fall into” depressive episodes. It is no coincidence that in the office I hear the following remarks: “This makes me very tense, I feel nervous!” “When I was a kid and we ran, I remember I was fine!” .
That’s why I wholeheartedly support the “Beautiful Mind in a Beautiful Body” campaign of the Next Level conceptual fitness chain. The idea is to support people’s mental health through exercise. We are also working hard on a special platform that will launch in a few weeks and will allow users to find out more about their status. In addition, they can receive free training, suitable for dealing with the individual type of illness.

Question: But how exactly will fitness help us avoid depression?

Since we talk all the time about the functioning of our psyche, let’s really follow the influence of sports on it. Aerobic exercise improves memory. The flow of oxygen and good blood flow balance the functioning of the two hemispheres and so we process the information better. At the same time, going to training, we are guaranteed to stop the hectic “circling” of the brain through problematic cases. We will teach our prefrontal cortex to choose the focus of its attention. This is a skill needed throughout life.
By performing the exercises with clear instructions, we will make our thoughts more slender and the obsessive fixation on the anxiety will have an ebb.
A comprehensive strength training will give us confidence in our abilities. The very fact that we concentrate to coordinate the commands of the brain with the corresponding muscle is a prerequisite for building better concentration and discipline in the behavioral aspect. Subsequently, this can be related to any other activity that we perform in front of the computer, in working conditions, when we have a project or task. At the same time, regular training is the basis for better self-esteem, because we feel the goal, realization and concrete coping. And this is no accident, because we are charged with endorphins. And as a result of pleasant physical fatigue, it is more likely to have better quality sleep. When, through a good training program, we are able to clear depressive and fatalistic thoughts and achieve a better quality of sleep, we do another important service to our body, namely the levels of leptin and ghrelin, which are responsible for hunger, are balanced and so often overdoing it. with food disappears.

-Gymns open today. What do you think about the group activities that are practiced there?
-Depressive symptoms are often associated with emotional hunger or improper diet. In this aspect, aerobic training works well, which treats us with the well-known endorphins. And then the practice of stretching, drives the lymphatic system even more optimally and clears all toxins from the body.
Contact with other people with whom we train in the same space will make us feel connected, belonging and unanimous. This is a very important need for us human beings, especially in pandemic conditions, framing us in loneliness, isolation and fears. At the end of each group workout, a person has a very clear sense of accomplishment, commensurate with others and the overall positive emotional background. This achievement gives you the dopamine you need to be motivated in your daily life. It is dopamine that is the biochemical that makes us choose behaviors that bring us positive effects. Therefore, when we have a sequence of workouts, without delay for at least a month, our brain and body begin to look for movement. “Effort,” as we felt in the beginning, becomes a pleasure.

-Just doing something or playing sports according to the instructions of fitness instructors?
-With a good overall, strength training or a combination of simple but very hot dance movements, which are a kind of cardio load, cortisol will be replaced by endorphins and dopamine. Thus, the rational part of the brain will be able to make plans and make better decisions. It is important to be consistent and resilient, and this is often achieved only through the discipline of the instructors in the room. When we learn to recharge through resilience, then we will be ready for achievement. Then there will be no room for heavy emotions and nonsense …
Sport is not necessarily a competition, it is care, pleasure, communication and mental health. Day after day, anxiety will give way to real coping, achievement, discipline, and the feeling that we are in control of our lives.