We all know by now that in appropriate quality and quantity can significantly contribute to physical and mental health. On the contrary, too much or excessive exercising has a detrimental effect on health. Exercise can cause dependence, when the person’s thoughts are only revolving around exercising, even when he is actually not exercising. Exercise dependence is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The individual’s physical, psychological and social functioning is severely affected, he can have withdrawal symptoms. This can cause the client to develop a tolerance to exercising, and therefore he needs more and more to be satisfied with the results.
Psychological skills could also provide invaluable help to overcome this as well as helping recovery. Injury rehabilitation using certain psychological skills like mental imagery or relaxation is reported to having higher adherence rates and speed up recovery. (Hamson-Utley et al., 2008)
Exercising can sometimes lead to injuries. Psychological skills could also provide invaluable help to overcome this as well as helping recovery. Injury rehabilitation using certain psychological skills like mental imagery or relaxation is reported to having higher adherence rates and to also speed up recovery from an injury (Hamson-Utley et al., 2008). As we have seen previously in this chapter, regular exercise behavior has positive effects to physical and mental health. Exercise has immediate effects on the mental health of clients. Below are the most important positive influences:
Although effects can appear immediately, to make the benefits of PA long-lasting, exercise needs to happen regularly. A certain amount of time is needed to develop the long-lasting positive effects and benefits – including a reduction in depression, better neurological functioning and increased stress tolerance. From these psychological benefits come indirect physiological changes as well, like lower heart rate and blood pressure and more optimal endocrine functioning.
Since most trainers do not function in the same way as an Athletic Trainer or one who sees injuries frequently, they may not realize how much lowering stress levels can serve to keep injuries at bay. In general, most people fail to see this connection, overall. Of course this isn’t a common point of knowledge for a fitness professional not trained in the influence of stress and exercise psychology. Still, three decades of research shows that a combination of conditions puts athletes at a greater risk of injury – this includes negative life stresses, a perceived increase in the demands of everyday life, previous injuries, and poor coping responses.
Stress, inadequate coping skills and personality traits alone do not just make for a bad mood; these factors create an elevated stress response. What does this mean for a client? People who have elevated stress responses suffer from more muscle tension, are more easily distracted, and have a smaller attention span. This means that your client may not notice that they are not holding their body in the proper form as they execute a movement under your watch as their trainer.
Physiologically, being under stress for long periods of time actually changes the body’s endocrine system, making a person more susceptible to illness and slowing down the healing process when we are sick or injured.
We all know stress in unavoidable, but how do we help clients manage the stress of life and lower their injury risk? Trainers might have more success if they are able to promote and develop coping skills for the client to use in order to deal with stress. And if you think about it, what do we know to be the best approach when life hits us with a big stressor — such as death of a loved one, a change in residence or the end of an important personal relationship? We seek professional help. And this is normal if our client’s coping skills are not up to an acceptable level in order to protect them from the harmful effects of stress.
Trainers, like exercise psychologists, can teach everyday coping skills and help clients to deal with major life stressors. Taking deliberate steps to try and reduce stress can also help to lower the chance of incurring more stress through suffering an injury. But it should not be the trainer’s sole responsibility to fix clients in this way.