Yeah, don't think I haven't had a few eyeballs rolled at me after giving this little piece of advice. But trust me, I don't tell clients this to simply be obnoxious. There is science behind this answer. Let me explain.
Years ago I read a very famous study on treating clinical depression in people. This university study was trying to determine ways of treating clinical depression other than the standard drug treatment therapies which are currently being prescribed by doctors and therapists. It was also trying to answer several pointed questions about human behavior. One of which was: "Can a person's actions dictate their emotions?"
To answer these questions, the study had participants stand in front of a mirror for 20 minutes per day and simplyÖgrin. Imagine that! Having clinically depressed patients stand in front of a mirror and, whether they felt like it or not, they had to grin at themselves for 20 minutes. Guess what they found? It turns out that those who participated in this study and simply grinned at themselves for 20 minutes /day reported feeling better at the end of the 20 minutes. In fact, many of the participants had a very hard time at the end of 20 minutes remembering what they were upset about and felt better for an extended period of time.
Now some of the participants would only feel better for a short while then go back to being de-pressed. However, those who stuck with it and kept doing the "grin therapy" reported that the more often they did the therapy, the longer the good effects lasted.
What did this teach us and what has it got to do with exercise? Well, it taught us a couple of things. One thing that it taught us is that our actions can affect our emotions. Not feeling particularly happyÖdo happy things (smile, laugh, play)Öfeel happier. Not feeling confidentÖact confident (stand straighter, look people in the eye)Öbe more confident. Not feeling like exercisingÖGO WORK OUT!
Here is another thing we learned from the study. It turns out that some people who are clinically depressed can cure themselves over time with consistent, daily practice. See, people who are depressed do not become that way overnight. They have to work at it. Over time, with enough reinforcement the bouts of depression last longer and longer. Pretty soon, the person is spending more time being depressed every day than happy. Soon after that it becomes easier for that person to be depressed than it is for them to be happy and in some cases it becomes impossible for the person to even be happy. It is the same process with weight gain and poor health ... sound familiar?
So, when I tell people that working out will cure the exercise doldrums, I am simply describing the process it takes to undo what has taken time and effort to be done in the first place.
For more information about the author, www.thewlc.com