Srinagar: Rehan (name-changed), 25, was trapped in a vicious cycle. The three years of lockdown had left him depressed and unmotivated, and he shunned every productive activity, just binge eating at home.
“The anti-depressants didn’t help either, and I gained a lot of weight. Everyone who would meet me would react first by pointing towards my paunch, which left me more depressed, and so I ate more and developed more issues like a bad back,” he recalled.
Two months back, he later joined a gym on the advice of an orthopaedician. “After a week I began to feel a transformation. Now not only do I feel much more relaxed and fit. Since I have lost weight my self-esteem has been boosted a lot” he said.
Similarly, Adnan Yaqoob, 23, found the burden of online classes and the continuous flow of negative news too taxing in the last two years.
“The worst happened when both my mother and father were down with Covid induced pneumonia. I landed in depression and relied on anti-depressants. That’s when my therapist made me understand how anxiety or stress usually triggers the sympathetic nervous system which has manifestations such as increased blood pressure, tensed muscles, lack of concentration, faster breathing, and exercise helps to calm that down,” he said.
Today, Adnan is not only off meds but also boasts of a well-toned physique. “Joining gym turned out to be a stressbuster. Not only did I exercise regularly, but it also turned out to be a source of socialization. Besides, exercising on various equipment and stretching poses help to reduce tension in muscles and joints, and this, in turn, helps relax my sympathetic system,” he said.
Trainer at Mubey’s Fitness Hub, Chanapora, Mubashir Aslam said while the benefits of a good workout for the body are obvious, there is a mental aspect to it also.
“A good workout does even more for the mind than it does for the body. The body releases chemicals called endorphins when we exercise, these endorphins create a general sense of positivity and euphoria,” he said.
Mubashir said the effects of a good workout for the mind in terms of neuroplasticity have been studied and found to be beneficial.Currently, the gym has more than 200 members including males and females of all age groups.
“A lot of millennials who visited the gym post-second wave share how the changed health practices have helped them heal. Also, the gym is frequented by females with reproductive health problems like Polycystic Ovarian syndrome. Since there is a tendency in them to gain weight fast, it affects their self-esteem and renders them vulnerable to obesity, back pain, knee problem, and hypertension,” he said.
Moreover, working out in the gym has a positive correlation with weaning away from drug and substance abuse. “Substance abuse leaves a person with dilapidated stamina and a general weakening of muscle mass and bones. Working out in the gym helps a former addict regain stamina and strengthen muscles,” Mubashir said.