Fitness Therapy

Building Mental Resilience through Physical Fitness

Why Fitness Therapy?

Mindset Reps Fitness Therapy Program is a unique program developed by Taylor Montey that combines physical fitness training with psychotherapy. Classes teach psychoeducational concepts that build confidence, conquer fears and help clients build resilience by using exercise as a modality to put concepts learned into practice. Classes are taught in a safe and supportive group setting. Fitness therapy combines all aspects of welness, which include physical, emotional, intellectual, social, evironmental and spiritual (optional) into one class so that clients can reach their full potential.

What does research say?

Taylor Montey, MA, LPCC; Dr. Cheryl Mark, PHD

The Effects of Exercise on Mood

  • According to the National Institute of Health, Twenty-five percent of all teens experience anxiety and depression instead of optimal wellness. According to researchers, a negative mood, which is frequently associated with depression, anxiety, anger, and fatigue, improved after exercise (U.S. DHHS, 2008).
  • Research reflected by Hutchinson (2015), demonstrated that exercise alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing neuro- transmitters in the brain that affect temperament and self-image (as cited in Shepard, 1990). Exercise produces serotonin which is associated with healing properties that regulate mood, decrease depression and anxiety, contribute to sleep, bone health, and digestion (Weir, 2011).
  • Researchers reported that people with higher levels of anxiety that exercise regularly are less likely to panic than those with a low activity levels (Weir, 2011). In addition, Weir (2001) reported the effects of exercise alleviate symptoms of long-term depression.
  • Studies conducted on the effects of exercise, found that aerobic and resistance training improved stamina, limited fatigue, reduced confusion, and boosted overall mood (Chase & Hutchinson, 2015). Aerobic activity is also commonly studied than resistance training (Chase & Hutchinson, 2015)
  • A study found in Psychosomatic Medicine (2007) measured symptoms of major depressive disorder in patients who exercised. The study found that those who were exposed to exercise over a four-month period had results that were similar to the use of anti-depressants with higher rates of remission than those in the placebo group. 

The Benefits of Group Therapy

  • Group counseling allows for participants to express their apprehensions, feel understood, and help each other discover themselves (Corey, 2017)
  • Group counseling is particularly beneficial to adolescents who want a safe place to express uncertainties, worries, and fears, which helps clients realize that they share similar connections and concerns with their peers (Corey, 2017)

The Benefits of a Shared Group Experience and Bonding

  • According to Smitts and Otto’s n.d study (as cited in Weir, 2011), exercise may mimic exposure treatment which helps clients to learn to associate symptoms of stress with safety instead of danger. Exercise assists in regulating the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to a decrease in panic when experiencing flight of fight reactions (Smitts & Otto n.d., as cited by Weir, 2011). 
  • Shared pain in group exercise, increases bonding and group cooperation between those who share the experiences (APS. 2009). According to Davis, Cohen and Taylor (2015), behavioral synchronization, which contributes to social competitive connections increases the anaerobic ability in athletes leading to higher physical fitness.
  • Evidence shows that increased intensity and behavioral coordination are correlated with social bonding and performance (Davis et al., 2015). Sustaining moderate level of intensity of 70-85% of the maximum heart rate increases activity in the endocannabinoid system (eCB) (Davis et al., 2015)  

The Bio-psychosocial-spiritual Model of Care and Bi-lateral Stimulation

  •  The biopsychosocial-spiritual model of care suggests that the body is the sum of its parts and optimal health is achieving wellness in the whole body, mind and spirit (Carlson, 1990). Not achieving wellness in one area may contribute to insufficient overall health (Carlson, 1990). Exercise positively impacts all aspects of the body, which includes: physical, cognitive, spiritual, emotional and social health.
  • Exercise increases confidence and self-esteem, which affects cognitive and social health (Carlson, 1990).
  • Exercise benefits physical health by strengthening bones and muscles, increasing aerobic capacity, reducing health risks such as diabetes and decreasing anxiety and depression. 
  • Exercise develops interpersonal relationships by increasing energy, improving appearance and developing self-confidence.
  • Exercise is addictive and may play a role in replacing negative addictive behaviors such as smoking, over-eating, and excessive drinking (Carlson, 1990). 
  • Cognitive functioning is reported to improve during and after exercise, which promotes learning (Carlson, 1990).
  • According to Boulware, (2006), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) uses bilateral stimulation and is reported to be the fastest treatment modality to process trauma and the associated symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise activates right/left brain activity through tactical stimulation and movement, which assists in the mind and body connection through bi-lateral stimulation. 

References:

Achauer, H., & Cecil, M. (July 25, 2015). Shared suffering. The Crossfit Journal. Retrieved from: 

https://games.crossfit.com/article/shared-suffering

Association for Psychological Science (2009). Shared pain brings people together. Retrieved from: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/shared-pain-brings-people-together.html#.WLqznhiZPVp

Barden, S. M., Conley, A. H., & Young, M. E. (2015). Integrating health and wellness in mental health counseling: Clinical, educational, and policy implications. Journal Of Mental Health Counseling,37(2), 152-163.

Blumenthal, J. et al. (2007) Exercise and the pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69(7)587-596. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e318148c19a

Boulware, C. (2006). EMDR-Therapy. Retrieved from: http://www.emdr-therapy.com/emdr.html

Carlson, J. (1990). Counseling through physical fitness and exercise. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling24(4), 298.

Corey, Gerald. (2016). Theory and practice of group counseling(9thed). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning 

Chase, R., & Hutchinson, J. (2015). The effects of acute aerobic exercise versus resistance exercise on mood state. Journal pf Multidisciplinary Research,7(2), 5-16.

Davis, A.; Taylor, J., & Cohen, E. (2015). Social bonds and exercise: Evidence for a reciprocal relationship. Public Library of Science. Retrieved from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136705

Fetter, H., & Koch, D. W. (2009). Promoting overall health and wellness among clients: The relevance and role of professional counselors. Adultspan Journal8(1), 4-16.

Meany-Walen, K. K., Davis-Gage, D., & Lindo, N. A. (2016). The impact of wellness-focused supervision on mental health counseling practicum students. Journal Of Counseling & Development94(4), 464-472. doi:10.1002/jcad.12105

National Institute of Mental Health. (2014). Any Anxiety Disorder Among Children. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-children.shtml

Rhodes, A., Spinazzola, J., & van der Kolk, B. (2016. Yoga for adult women with chronic PTSD: A long-term follow-up study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine22(3), 189-196. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0407

Schwartz, S. (2009). Adolescent mental health in the United States. National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_878.html