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Exercise as Support

R

robin

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Apr 27, 2009
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2
I currently work within the field of Clinical Psychology and have a keen interest in the positive effect physcial exercise can have on both physical and mental health. I am considering setting up a support group which will offer people with mental health problems the chance to do some exercise and find avenues into regular exercse.

I was wanting to get the input of people on this forum about what this group could offer, such as emotional and exercise support? what peoples ideas are of the value of exercise to mental health? how easy people find it to access exercise groups?

Any ideas and comments are welcome as they'll help me formulate my idea better.

Cheers,

Rob
 
R

riverofdragons

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Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
275
Body image, motivation and cash effect my ability to exercise. Support to do some would be appreciated as I know it can have benefits.

I guess it depends on the type of activity
 
S

*Sapphire*

Guest
I have been to excercise groups in a variety of different settings.

In hospital I was assessed by a physiotherapist there who assessed my physical limitations as well as taking into account my medications as some can have side effects that impair abilities, such as dizziness etc.
This was in a group setting and they had a good range of different equipment available, and i was taught various circuits or routines to keep me interested and work on different parts of the body. At the end as a group we then did relaxation. This was fantastic and really helped me feel better, I did feel more positive and it was nice to have others to talk to to whinge about aches and pains and motivate each other! The staff were great too, offering advice and suggestions on getting the most of your exercise.

A year ago my local mental health team set up various activities for me, they gave me the opportunity to join a walking group led by support workers which wasn't speed walking and lasted for an hour. This was great as i got to meet people and see my local areas that i hadn't visited before and be in touch with nature. Getting out in the open can often be hard for people with mental health illness and for myself so it was great to be out with supportive people and experience the elements of nature. Being out in the sun does seem to have positive benefits particulary for people suffering with depression.

I was also offered the opportunity to join a badminton group again in small groups once a week, where they hired the court at a local gym.

Following that they asked if i would like to join a gym again with a small group and this was great. My physical health and effects of medication were assessed by the gym and my GP and i was advised what i should do. Because it was organised by the mental health service we were offered great rates (I think our local mental health team are good hagglers and this particular gym was a public, not private one), i only had to pay a pound and could be there for the entire morning or afternoon. Again being with similar people to chat, whinge and motivate was great and of course there are opportunities of creating good and lasting friendships if you desire. Plus the gym was small, i think i would have felt intimidated in a large and busy gym.
In fact following that I joined a private gym and have barely gone in because they have really loud and deafening music (which some persons suffering with mental illness don't like) and it is large and intimidating, plus i go on my own so have no one to help motivate me.

My mental health team also run a gardening group at a local mental health centre, as well as being outside and getting excercise people were also motivated and delighted with the crops/plants they grew and were passionate about going!

I think if you are setting up a service like this some things need to be in place for it to be successful:

1) Liason with physios, GPs and mental health workers to assess clients needs and physical limitations and potential
2) Variety, we are all different and will prefer different forms of excercise
3) Good equipment/teaching/support/tools
4) Variety in group sizes. Some prefer very small/medium or larger groups
5) Having a range of outdoor/indoor pursuits
6) If there is a cost that it is nominal so that most can afford it
7) It may be wise (if it is not seen as discriminatory) to have one or two male or female only groups, as some people may not want to excercise with other sexes there, I believe my service don't offer this but i believe others do

The benefits of exercise for persons with mental health problems are well documented.
1) because alot of medications can leave you prone to being overweight, give you stiffness of the joints and other side effects that the right form of excercise can help you overcome
2) It helps you socialise which some people may find difficult or don't have alot of opportunity to do
3) excercise can release endorphins which can make you feel good and sometimes euphoric, thus aiding depression and other symptoms like pain (in fact one person i know who excercises to alleviate pain became a wheelchair olympic winner)
4) Outdoor pursuits give you the benefits of being in the sun helping you produce Vitamin D, sleep better and i believe help you produce serotonin a natural mood elevator
5) Exercise can help improve your sleep, something i struggle with and it does help.
I'm sure there are others!

Sorry I feel I have waffled, but i hope that helps!

:)
 
G

GrizzlyBear

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There's a strong link between fatigue and mental health problems....and I don't believe there is any evidence that fatigue, such as M.E. or general cortisol induced exhaustion, is alleviated by exercise. An extreme chronic anxiety experience is a very energy intensive activity in itself...and I believe this needs to be taken into account when considering exercise as potential support - for some people it just isn't appropriate - if anything I need less exercise and this is the support avenue I am currently exploring.
 
shaun3210

shaun3210

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Feb 18, 2009
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Location
Up North
My GP recommended I joined a program for people with MH problems at the local council gym about 5 years ago, as I neglect myself quite badly physically when not feeling well mentally. I did really want to go as my weight was all over the place, my blood pressure was borderline high, I had aches and pains in my legs, swollen feet and generally felt physically bad (I was 34 lol).

I was put of by the price, going once a week for a 1 ½ hrs was £1.50 more expensive than buying a session ticket for the gym, as I didn’t have to much spare money at the time which I guess is a issue for a lot of people with MH issue who aren’t able to work.

Sorry if this sounds really bad:redface: …but I was also put off with the idea off being in a public place with a group of MH sufferers. More a refection of the stigma I place on my own MH problems and the idea of others finding out about it, than the others people who where likely to be there if I did attend.

I did go to the gym by becoming a regular member I joined and went with my nephew 3 times a week for nearly 6 months, I can’t really say what effect if had on my MH as I was going threw a very stressful time, due to the fact my mum’s health started to down hill and I was her primary carer, it did sort out all the physical problems I listed above with in about 3 or 4 months.
 
rollinat

rollinat

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Interesting idea. In my experience, I stopped exercising so much a while ago because of an injury. By the time that was better I was in the middle of this bout of depression, and since then I have found it increasingly difficult to find the motivation and confidence to exercise, with the result that I am unfitter than ever, and find the idea of exercising with my friends without depression humiliating and shameful. Sapphire has some excellent ideas and I would like to see some of those things available in my area - as far as I'm aware nothing exists like that where I am.
 
R

robin

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Apr 27, 2009
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2
Thank you everyone for your input and ideas they are very much appreciated. If anyone else has any ideas or suggestions then please feel free to get in touch.

I see the group as a way people can get take a first step into regular exercise by getting people active and then assessing what they want to achieve and find ways this can be done. My logicbehind this is that as was said in the replies people all have different needs and goals.

I have a couple of questions that particulalry Saphires response raised for me:
1. Are similar services available to everyone who wants/needs them?
2. Who are these services usually run by?

Cheers,
Rob
 
G

GrizzlyBear

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Funny - some of us are/were active already.

'First step into regular exercise'?????

Jeez....how condescending.
 
S

*Sapphire*

Guest
I'm so sorry rollinat to hear that your local services do not provide these activities. After reading alot of the posts on this site I am well aware that my County is very forward thinking, and after being in the mental health services within three separate counties this one I am under is miles ahead of the others. It has now got to the point where I am thinking on moving house however am only looking within this county because other counties seem to be poorly run/funded and I am scared of receiving substandard care/facilities in others - what a ridiculous scenario this is!

In answer to your first question Robin which may help you rollinat is that I had to do alot of investigation into what was being offered, this included pummeling any support workers i came across, my approved social worker and also the centre that I attend for treatment AND the local CMHT office for information. When I go to my local CMHT office NONE of these activities are advertised, which is appalling. Frequently I have come across people that have been under the services for 20 years and suffer from isolation and physical problems that would dearly love to be involved in these activities but they were not offered to them. I have encouraged them to ask all their mental health professionals for information and to ask for an assessment however alot of them do not have the confidence or courage to ask. Again this is ridiculous!

I believe that ANYONE who comes under the mental health services should not only have a mental health assessment but a MANDATORY occupational health/holistic wellbeing assessment where all of these activities are MENTIONED and DISCUSSED about their appropriateness. This should also be an ONGOING assessment undertaken every year because new activities may be on offer from year to year or in the primary asssessment the person may be so ill that they are unable to or unwilling to take part in any or some of them.

rollinat I appear to have accessed these services because I am a constant nagger! I am aware of my rights and constantly update my professional mental health workers of my changing needs and demand that they help me with them! Why the onus should fall on me is beyond me, the onus should fall on them!!

In answer to your second question Robin is that the problem with accessing these activities is because they all seem to be run by different groups of professionals. The Gardening group is run by my local "Wellbeing centre". The Gym was organised by one person at the "Wellbeing Centre". The Badminton and walking group is run by Support workers at my local CMHT centre. Because support workers are often training for a higher qualification they do not appear to stay long so the groups they run may finish when they leave if the new support worker does not continue them. And unless you have contact with new support workers you will not be aware that they may offer new activities.

I was lucky in a sense, at one point I had to have some support workers regularly visiting me as well as an approved social worker as well as having to visit my local CMHT and having treatment at the "Welbeing Centre" so I was regularly in contact with professionals/centres I could ask. Many people I know who have had long term mental health problems but do not need the regular contact but in my view do need these activities are not exposed to many professionals/centres on a regular basis so have few people to ask/contact. Alot of them do not ask because they are not aware of the activities offered. This is another issue that gets my goat!!

Anyway Robin if you would like me to give you numbers of my local centres they may be able to give you a more thorough run down of activities they offer and funding resources etc. Because of the issue I highlighted above I have not seen a support worker for a year so am unaware of any new activities they may offer! Arrgghh!!! Pummel them with questions - they deserve it!! They may also be able to put you in touch with advisory boards or groups that are set up to encourage more of these activities being offered. And i'd love to hear of other areas starting up these initiatives. However be warned, they may not be as helpful as you'd like - as at times is my experience!

Good luck! :clap:
 
S

*Sapphire*

Guest
" I have encouraged them to ask all their mental health professionals for information and to ask for an assessment however alot of them do not have the confidence or courage to ask. Again this is ridiculous!"

Sorry meant that it is not ridiculous that they can't ask but ridiculous that their professionals do not see this and OFFER it to them instead!
 
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