Exercise can help cure the mild depression experienced by many people from Christmas through to the spring
As the festive season is finally over and the remaining winter months stretch endlessly ahead, a great number of people find they feel sluggish, lacklustre and even a little depressed. Jean-Ann Marnoch, who is Registrar for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), a sub-brand of SkillsActive, the active leisure and learning skills champion, suggests exercise is one of the best ways of tackling this all-too-common post-Christmas malaise.
“Everybody knows that exercise is good for our physical health, but it is really just as important for our mental wellbeing. If you’re feeling depressed it may be the last thing you feel like doing, but invest a little effort, and I promise you it will pay off. This is because exercise is scientifically proven to stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain which make you feel happier. GPs may actually refer patients suffering from mild or moderate depression for exercise.”
Regular exercise is the key
Jean-Ann continues. “Studies show that even ten minutes of aerobic exercise can have a positive effect, so even a brief walk at low intensity can improve your mood and increase your energy. However, to gain the maximum benefit, you need to be a regular exerciser, as regular exercisers gain a far greater benefit from a single exercise session compared to people who are otherwise inactive. For longer-term benefits and to reduce symptoms of depression, it is more beneficial to exercise three times a week for 30 minutes per session at a moderate intensity.”
Jean-Ann continues: “Exercise is known to bring biological, psychological and social benefits. In addition to its magical effects on the brain, it can increase your cardiovascular fitness, strength and suppleness, which will make you feel more energetic and better physically. Besides this, it can help you gain new skills and achieve new goals, giving you greater self-confidence and sense of control over your life. Finally, many forms of exercise will help you make new friends.”
When choosing to take up exercise, safety should be your first concern. With nearly 30,000 members across the UK, REPs is the industry’s regulator, upholding professionalism and maintaining standards amongst exercise professionals. A registered exercise professional will have provided evidence that they meet the appropriate National Occupational Standards for their specialisation, undertake ongoing education, and hold appropriate public liability insurance. It also means that they will be bound by a code of ethical conduct.
Jean-Ann’s final word of advice therefore comes as no surprise: “Whether you head for the gym, track or pool, or decide to make this the year you start yoga or Pilates, one of the most important choices you can make is to ensure that your instructor is REPs registered. That way you know you will be in safe hands.”
She concludes: “There is only one thing which is more important than that when exercising – and that’s to have fun! Provided exercise is safe and enjoyable, it will set you on the road to keeping both physically and mentally healthy for the rest of your life.”
SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council for active leisure and learning. SkillsActive is made up of seven sub-sectors of the sports and active leisure industry, sports, fitness, outdoors, playwork, caravans and hair & beauty and works to increase the demand, quality and availability of skills provision across the UK.
SkillsActive’s nationwide body of staff are experts in their field. They provide employers, training providers, policy makers and key organisations with information and advice on skills development and training for the sector.
Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, employer-led, UK-wide organisations. The SSCs and the UK Commission are committed to working in partnership across the four nations to create the conditions for increased employer investment in skills which will drive enterprise, create jobs and lead to sustainable economic growth.
Ian Taylor is an Olympic gold medallist and a former Minister of Sport’s nominee on The Sports Council, an Executive Board Director of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and a published author including co-author of the International Athletes Time Management Programme.
The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)
REPs recognises and regulates exercise professionals who meet the UKs national standards, to ensure the general public can exercise safely and effectively. It is an extensive register which is available to the general public, offering them nearly 30,000 listed exercise professionals.
REPs is part of SkillsActive, the Government Licensed Sector Skills Council for the Active Leisure and Learning Industry. John Greenway, former shadow minister for sport, holds the title of Register President.
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