Best Average Self: Part Two
This is part two of a three part series. To read part one, click here.
Working on your body is not a cure for mental illness. But it is a significant part of the puzzle you need to assemble for good health. A study out of Australia reports that by meeting the physical activity levels recommended for cardiorespiratory fitness; you will also be achieving the prescribed levels for the treatment of depression.
I'm going to say that again: By trying to get the basic requirements for physical activity - you can also reduce the risk of depression.
You may be thinking “That’s fine for Australians. I'm Canadian."
Ok - here are the Canadian guidelines. Here is our prescription: Young people need an hour of physical activity everyday - and it’s got to be vigorous. That means sweating & breathing heavy.
If you’re older than 17; Congratulations! You’re no longer cool or relevant to popular culture AND, you need two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. You can break that up however you like - but it has to be fun or you won’t do it. You’re going to need several options.
If you do meet these minimum recommended daily physical activity requirements you're also going to be reducing risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. But forget all that - you're going to have fun!
PRO TIP: Do Not berate yourself when you don't hit the target. Because chances are you're not going to hit the target. Not right away. Engaging in negative self-talk is a waste of energy. Instead, I suggest you try 'Being Your
Best Average Self (patent pending).
Instead of attempting to meet or exceed these physical activity guidelines - try doing 50%. Or 20%. Coming in below the recommended levels will provide some health benefits too. Don’t shoot for the top right away. Shoot for the middle. Be your average self. Small steps are easier to take and lead to lasting change. You can gradually increase the frequency and intensity later - maybe. For now, establishing a pattern of behaviour is good enough. Something really is better than nothing.
Working on your body improves your mind.
I began doing research for this series believing I understood the difference between mind, brain and body. I found out that the mind extends beyond the brain throughout the body and includes our collective life experiences.
There’s no need to be ashamed of working on your mind. It’s just another part of your body.
Basic things you can DO:
Go for a walk (outside).
Do something fun (outside).
Do something creative.
Do something active.
1. Stanton, R., Happell, B., Reaburn, P. (2014). The mental health benefits of regular physical activity, and its role in preventing future depressive illness. Nursing : Research and Reviews, 2014(4), 45 - 53.
2. Tremblay, M. S., Warburton, D. E., Janssen, I., Paterson, D. H., Latimer, A. E., Rhodes, R. E., Kho, M. E., Hicks, A., LeBlanc, A. G., Zehr, L., Murumets, K., Duggan, M. (2011). New Canadian physical activity guidelines.
Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 36(1):36-46; 47-58. doi: 10.1139/H11-009
About the Author
Zac Crouse (M.Ed, CTRS) is a recreation therapist, musician & expedition kayaker who delivers keynote presentations and workshops focusing on mental health, recreation and leadership.
Zac has a unique ability to discuss sensitive topics with respect and humour. His presentations are designed to engage and entertain the audience through stories, film and live music.
Zac has worked for over 17 years as a frontline practitioner with at-risk youth & families. He specializes in working with individuals who have mental health and substance use issues; and has an extensive background in adventure therapy and eco-therapy.
Zac has instructed at St. FX University for the Faculty of Education and at Dalhousie University for the Faculty of Health & Human Performance. Zac is a contributing author to Quality Lesson Plans in Outdoor Education (Human Kinetics). He has also acted as a consultant in Belize on a national citizenship curriculum for youth. Zac is currently an instructor at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences.
In 2013 Zac released the film Paddle To The Ocean – a documentary about Zac’s use of recreation therapy as part of his treatment for PTSD. He uses this film as part of his work as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator on the topics of mental health, leadership and recreation therapy.
In addition to paddling class IV+ white water in Uganda, Mexico, the USA & Canada; Zac has circumnavigated the islands of Newfoundland (2006 – sea kayak) and Cape Breton (2002 – canoe) and travelled from Ottawa ON to Halifax NS using only self-propelled transportation (2011 – sea kayak & bicycle).
Zac is extensively certified in water-based sports through Paddle Canada [canoe, kayak, paddle board].