Posted by Dayne Hudson in Motivation
Estimated reading time: 5mins
Whilst lockdowns are essential for containing Covid-19, research shows they are having a significant negative impact on people. 20,720 participants in Italy were questioned, with 12.4% of respondents reporting severe or extremely severe levels of depressive symptoms, 17.6% reporting anxiety symptoms, and 41.6% reporting feeling at least moderately stressed by lockdowns.
In the UK, more than one in six adults increased their alcohol consumption during the lockdown, and a larger proportion of these were younger adults. The researchers reported that the "increased alcohol consumption was independently associated with poor overall mental health, increased depressive symptoms and lower mental wellbeing."
The other issue we face is a change in season, and specifically, SADS, which stands for seasonal affective disorder. This is a depressive disorder that starts as sunlight decreases during the short dark days of winter and is commonly known as the "winter blues." Those who suffer from it report a sad mood and low energy.
But the good news is there are ways to help combat the associated feelings that come with lockdowns and SADS.
We all know this feeling: training and feeling amazing at the end of it. Exercise and its direct effect on our mental wellbeing is no secret at all:
"Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal."
During lockdowns, gyms are obviously closed, but we can improvise accordingly. With a home barbell, we are able to train either inside, outside, or at a nearby park. A home barbell allows you to perform a variety of exercises for all muscle groups, whilst at the same time placing you in the outdoors ready for a walk.
Research shows that thirty minutes of exercising at a moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for 3 days a week, is sufficient for the following health benefits:
- Improved sleep
- Increased interest in sex
- Better endurance
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness
- Weight reduction
- Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness
And resistance training for 45-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week, is also beneficial. We must train according to our experience level, starting with shorter workouts and working our way up.
And performing this resistance training or walking outside can be very beneficial too, due to the healthy exposure to vitamin D from the sun.
Research shows that vitamin D increases mood and reduces depression. This study was a randomised double-blind trial and concluded that higher levels of vitamin D in the blood reduced depression symptoms. To add more weight to these findings, multiple other studies show that a deficiency in vitamin D was more common in those with depression and anxiety.
Studies show that for those with fair skin, a 6-7 minute walk with arms exposed to sunlight in mid-afternoon or morning during summer is ideal. But during winter, we'll need as much exposure as possible for 7-40 minutes at noon.
And it's critical we support our training (particularly if we're just starting out) with two reliable and worthy supplements:
The bottom line is that lockdowns and SADS pose periods of challenging mental health for lots of us. By exercising frequently and getting out into the sun, we're taking steps to improve our mental health. Walking for 30 minutes three times per week is beneficial. Additional weight training is a great bonus and is recommended. Moreover, by supporting our training with whey protein and creatine, we're ensuring we get the most out of that, too.
In terms of getting enough vitamin D, for those with fair skin, a 6-7 minute walk with arms exposed to sunlight in mid-afternoon or morning during summer is ideal. But during winter, we'll need as much exposure as possible for 7-40 minutes at noon.