It is with pleasure that we welcome you to Day 1 of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge!
Faced with COVID-19, we need each other more than ever. On behalf of Kinesiologists in Canada, we congratulate you for deciding to look for active living strategies and opportunities as staying active is important in times of mental stress and anxiety brought on by this crisis.
This first step is the beginning of a process to take your physical health into account to maintain and achieve healthy mental health. By spending only a few minutes a day exercising, you will learn to implement strategies and use proven tools to reduce daily stress and anxiety levels to maintain a healthy mental state. You will receive one email per day for 7 days containing exercises, advice, articles, and resources on matters of physical activities, stress, anxiety, and happiness.
Each day, we invite you to complete a daily task, activity, or action, to be physically engaged to help take care of your mental state.
Track your progress. Complete this 5-minute survey about stress. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is one of the most widely used instruments for measuring the perception of stress. It measures the degree to which situations stress you. At the end of the 7-day eChallenge, we will recommend that you take the PSS again to show your success in reducing in your perceived stress.
Wishing you a fine journey through this wonderful eMentalFitChallenge.
The CKA Team
Disclosure: Information in all emails of this eMentalFitChallenge is collated from various sources stated after each article. The main purpose is to present current publications on different subjects related to mental health that may be useful. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information shared. We emphasize that the aim is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of the proper specialist.
Walking the Talk
Why Kinesiologists Are Key in Helping on Mental Health
Studies and kinesiologists' practice show regular physical exercise can improve mental well-being, including living with depression and anxiety
We rarely talk about kinesiologists when it comes to mental health barriers or a mental wellness strategy. But as kinesiologists gain a deeper understanding of clients' health histories, they're uncovering a pattern of mental health issues.
"I would say, conservatively, that 70 per cent of my clients are on antidepressants," says Kathie Sharkey, a Regulated Kinesiologist (R.Kin) who has been practicing for 23 years. While clients of Sharkey aren't typically coming in strictly to deal with depression, or even with a referral from their doctor because of the condition, it is often part of the larger picture of their health.
"Typically, I'll work with a client for another condition a knee replacement or heart condition or injury that they need some assistance with, and do a health history and uncover depression or anxiety," she says. Kinesiologists are well-practiced at customizing an exercise plan that accommodates pre-existing conditions and injuries but not many realize that this can include mental health concerns, as well.
"We can use the analogy of a knee injury," says Sharkey. "I can find out what their mental health barriers are; what makes it worse and what makes it better? I can also offer suggestions for additional resources if their condition falls out of my scope of practice."
As always, kinesiologists' practice begins with evidence-based research, and thanks to recent studies released by Harvard Medical School, we know a little movement goes a long way to helping people feel better mentally.
Read more including "This means we can quite literally stave off depression with consistent physical exercise".
Check in on your Mental Health
There's a common misperception that "good mental health" means feeling happy and "bad mental health" means feeling sad. In fact, a mentally healthy life includes the full range of human emotionseven the uncomfortable ones like sadness, fear and anger.
While feeling well means different things to different people, some things might actually apply to all of us: in order to thrive, we all need a good sense of self, and we all need purpose, contribution, hope, resilience and belonging.
We've condensed that knowledge into an informal list that you can use to check your own mental health. (You can find the sources we consulted below). It's not a scientific tool, or a way to diagnose yourself. It's just one way to check in with yourself about your mental health, and maybe guide you on how to support and improve it.
Read each statement and consider whether you "agree" or "disagree" with it.
Your sense of self
- I feel confident about my own opinions, even if they're different from what other people think or believe.
- I think people respect me, but I can disagree with others and still feel ok about myself.
- I feel that I am the expert on my own life.
- I consider myself to be a good person.
- I deserve to feel well.
Your purpose and sense of meaning
- I feel like I'm reaching my potential.
- I feel I am growing as a person.
- I challenge myself.
- I have a sense of purpose and meaning in my life.
- It is a better world with me in it.
- I am good at things that matter to me.
- I get something out of the things I do.
- I get along with others, and I feel good about my personal relationships and social interactions.
- I feel like I am part of something bigger than myself.
- I feel like I belong.
- I have people in my life to support me.
- What I do matters a lot to others.
- I feel useful and productive.
- I make the world a better place in my own way.
- I am making a difference.
Hope and enjoyment
- I am optimistic about my future.
- I feel good about myself.
- I like and accept myself.
- I usually expect good things will happen.
- I enjoy life.
- Things are hard sometimes, but I think I deal pretty well.
- I know I can't control everything, but I take action where I can.
- If you knock me down, I get back up again.
Five ways kinesiologists can get you moving better to feel mentally stronger
- Get you started moving in the right direction
Most people Sharkey sees come in with a physical condition in addition to depression. They may start out a new year with lofty goals, and then actually aggravate an injury working out on their own, worsening their injury, slowing them down, and thus, deepening their depression. Kinesiologists can design a program to get you started on the right track moving safely.
- Make safe movement possible
A common scenario Sharkey sees is a client feeling like they can't exercise safely because they've tried and felt pain in the past. Then, they stick to a sedentary lifestyle and their symptoms and moods worsen. This cycle can be broken by building a long-term plan with short-term gains (and modifications) that gets you moving safely.
- Keep you accountable (on your terms)
Having a program and guidance to make sure it all goes well can't be overstated. And it doesn't have to cost you your life's savings, or even the cost of a personal trainer. "I can meet with someone maybe four times over four to six months and we can slowly work on a program and slowly implement change," says Sharkey. "Slow, miniscule change is how you're going to be successful and if you only have $500 worth of insurance, I don't need to burn through it in two weeks. We can be here for you just to check in and make sure you're on the right track."
- Help you enjoy the things you love
Ultimately, learning to move safely and improving your cardio fitness will help you better enjoy the things you love in life. Whether it's playing with your kids or grandkids, walking your dog or gardening, you'll move better about your day, increasing your enjoyment of the things you love.
- Prevent future health concerns
There's no other mental health intervention or treatment that has as many benefits as physical exercise and besides decreasing your risk of major heart conditions, diabetes, many types of cancer, depression and anxiety, physical exercise can significantly reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer's further proof that what's good for your body is good for your mind.
Today's Exercises for your eMentalFitChallenge
1. Complete this 5-minute survey about stress: The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)
2. Aerobic Activities : Compared to just sitting around most of the time, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Regular physical activity can help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 2 sessions per week of muscle strength training.
Fit in 2, 5, 10 or 20 minutes, however and wherever you can. Every active minute counts!
Today, let's start with 10 minutes. Choose one of these indoor activities:
- Put some music on and walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs
- Dance to your favorite music
- Jump rope
- Do an exercise video
Being more active is very safe for most people, however, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming physically active. If you are planning to become much more physically active than you are now, consult a Kinesiologist to guide you through your process. Find a kinesiologist near you. The CKA will not be held responsible for any consequences related to performing these exercises.
Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's eMentalFitChallenge:
- Staying active during Covid-19
- How to determine your exercise intensity and volume?
Looking for some more mental health support through exercises?
Find a kinesiologist near you (click here)
For further reading, visit:
Canadian Mental Health Association's How is Mental Health Like Physical Health
Ontario Kinesiology Association's Position Statement on Mental Health
Harvard Medical School's "More evidence that exercise can boost mood"
The Harvard Gazette's "Lower risk of depression with elevated exercise"
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Kinesiologists are human-movement specialists. As trained health professionals, they use the science of exercise and movement to promote health and well-being; prevent, manage and rehabilitate chronic conditions; restore function and optimize human performance in the workplace, clinical settings, sports and fitness. They work with people of all ages and with physical abilities, in many settings, in order to improve the quality of life, often by using interventions that include physical activity. The CKA represent 4300 Kinesiologists across Canada.
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