Throughout the centuries, exercise and fresh air have never failed those who are in a glum mood. There’s something about the combination of the two that seems to recalibrate our outlook on a pressing situation.
No one is exempt from feeling down, but major depression is a different story. If you have recently undergone a sudden lifestyle change due to amputation, you may have found yourself in an extra gloomy state, or denial and even shock, especially after surgery. Could exercise—particularly the trendy Spinning classes—and fresh air be the remedy that you’re looking for? Researchers sought to find out in a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The study found that Spinning might help treat depression or anxiety, and here’s the theory behind it: Clinical depression and anxiety are caused by chronic or severe acute stress, which causes the body and brain to be in a state of inflammation. Our "fight or flight" nervous system gets activated too strongly for a long period of time, making it difficult for our "rest and digest" nervous system to do its job quick enough to calm down our "fight or flight" over activity.
Spinning—during the recovery period—can help strengthen our "rest and digest" system. This is because it activates that famous “endorphin” effect, which you can achieve with high-intensity workouts, such as an hour-long spin class.
Now, you might already be considering signing up for Spinning classes at your nearest studio. Here’s what you need to prepare:
1. Make sure you have the same taste in music as your instructor! Music is a great way to engage you during your class, keeping you motivated and focused all throughout.
2. To wear or not to wear? Spinning bikes are quite stable and smooth, so wearing your prosthesis is optional. You should invest in adjustable leg weights, which you strap around your thigh. If your residual limb doesn't stay in place, apply an old prosthetic shrinker over the weight band to give resistance to your prosthetic side. Don't be afraid to ask your instructor to adjust the bike for you as well.
3. Recruit your core muscles. Engaging your core through each stroke will allow your body to develop stamina. Your leg and foot may get tired during a spin workout, so make sure that your core muscles are doing their job in propelling most of your movements on the bike.
4. Add resistance. Adding resistance will make you feel more grounded and will let you exercise different muscles in your core. Don't be afraid to reach for that small knob and add the necessary resistance that your body can handle.
5. Stay neutral. Pull your shoulders back and down and actively set them away from your ears. Maintaining a neutral position while on the saddle can exercise your core muscles more effectively. It will also help you keep your balance throughout the class.
6. Control your movement. Sprinting can get exciting, but make sure you sprint in a controlled manner, so you can use more muscles when propelling your foot.
7. Work your body from head to toe. Climb using your entire body and use the force from head to toe as you pedal. It's normal to feel challenged, but the added resistance will help improve your speed and agility.
8. Enjoy! Have a good time and enjoy your class. Try to go as regularly as possible. You won’t only feel better, you’ll also reinforce a positive habit.
It may be daunting at first but going to a Spinning class regularly, even just a few times a week, can help alleviate stress and make you feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically. So don’t fret if you can only manage 30 minutes to an hour; just make it a point to engage in light activities that help you maintain a positive outlook in life.