If you have a traumatic brain injury, you’re not going to be all smiles and rainbows – at least not straight away.
Most TBI survivors suffer from depression or some form of anxiety and levels of stress. The days are usually filled with negative moods and perspectives, and sometimes it can feel as though you are doomed.
There’s a solution to this that might be unexpected depending on the way you look at it – and it’s exercise.
Exercise makes those who suffer from depression feel better, especially because most of the depressed feelings come from not being as physically capable as you were before the injury. Additionally, exercising can help treat variety of TBI side-effects such as anxiety. Additionally, spasticity is a common TBI side-effect that is often treated with stretching.
That’s where exercise and the correct fitness training tailored to you helps. It’s essentially the only way you will recover that missing part of yourself, so one of the best things you can do is start exercising!
But there’s still a lot more to it than that. Read on to learn the potential benefits of exercise for TBI and why you should do it.
Why You Should Exercise With a TBI
It’s important to remember that the results you get out of your TBI recovery are a reflection of what you put into it to achieve them.
If you don’t push yourself, your mind, and your body, you’re not going to get the results you want or expect. You need to work for them, but any start is a good start.
When you workout, you tend to be more healthy overall, particularly with your diet. Diet plays a significant role in your recovery process.
Protein, for example, is essential for brain function and healing – it is also an essential nutrient for exercise recovery, too. Notice the similarities between the two!
Nutrients, such as magnesium, BCAA’s, and fish oil benefits the body after physical exercise and are suggested supplements for TBI.
Physical therapy also requires exercise, so if you want to progress and maximize your physical therapy sessions towards recovery, then you have to train and exercise. Additionally physical therapy often times include water therapy, both of which requires stamina achieve the full benefits and the best way to get this endurance is with exercise,
Physical therapy and brain injury have something important in common – and that’s exercise. It creates a powerful mind to body (and vice versa) connection, thus allowing you to maximize your potential.
When you exercise properly, you are also practicing the correct breathing techniques. This can furthermore reduce stress, anxiety, and depression – all side effects of TBI.
When you combine exercise and mindful breathing with proper diet and nutrition, you potentially reduce all of the symptoms associated with TBI.
The moral? Incorporate exercise because you will experience a range of benefits for rehabilitating your traumatic brain injury.
The Benefits of Exercise For TBI
According to Shirley Archer, a health educator and fitness-and-wellness specialist at Stanford University School of Medicine said, “By concentrating on movement with focused awareness, you’re able to affect your mind-body connection.” For TBI, exercise is more important than a regular part of life. It’s a required part of recovery.
Studies have shown that exercise may indeed contribute to the improvement in mood, quality of life, and, of course, physical health. There are also other studies that proved people with TBI who exercised were less depressed and had improved physical capacity.
People with TBI can use exercise as a way to combat the negative side of these that are often inevitable, including stress and depression. It should definitely be considered as an approach to help treat these symptoms.
The benefits of exercise vary, but overall, it:
- Improves functional strength
- Establishes the mind and body connection
- Improves your endurance
- Improves balance/coordination
- Boosts your memory/mood
- Can ease symptoms of chronic illnesses
All of these benefits are relevant to TBI, and the ones you want the most will depend on your specific situation.
Exercise can also help with immune function and lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, breaking bones, diabetes, dementia, and much more.
But there are three key benefits that you should focus on during your recovery.
Mind & Body
In particular, you want to establish and maintain that mind and body connection. When you make this connection, you ultimately regain your sense of self and belonging.
You might feel as though your mind is extremely far away from your body following your traumatic experience, and this is something that can help regain that connection.
Many people find that meditation and yoga work best to achieve this result because, during these exercises, you are focusing on the mind as well as the body.
If you have a traumatic brain injury, you probably have noticed that you feel slower with bad reflexes.
After consistent exercise, your mind will be sharp, alert, and positive – as well as your body. You can feel in control of yourself again.
Functional strength training, in the simplest sense, is when the training mimics the demands of real-life everyday activities, such as carrying the groceries or walking upstairs. Even recreational leisure such as bowling, yoga, tai chi, or if you wanted to go swimming, which are all excellent forms of recreational therapy that require functional strength.
When you exercise correctly, you are improving your functional strength. This, in turn, improves your independence and helps you to regain that lost confidence you want back again.
You will be able to walk up those stairs or carry your groceries with ease and without any need for assistance. You can feel like your own person again.
Some functional strength training exercises include resistance exercises and body-weight movements – for example, push-ups, squats, and inverted rows using just your body-weight.
Feel stronger, more agile, and more flexible so you can equip yourself to handle everyday tasks all by yourself.
Endurance, also known as stamina, is greatly improved when you exercise on a regular basis. If you have a traumatic brain injury, you might feel as though you are always out of breath or fatigued. With that being said, when you go to physical therapy, you need stamina to get the most out of it so it is important to challenge your stamina on a daily basis.
Focusing on endurance training encourages cardiovascular and simple muscular endurance, which is much needed when learning how to walk again.
There’s no doubt that physical exercise helps TBI recovery with scientific research to support it as well as success stories.
There shouldn’t be anything limiting you from trying to exercise a little bit each day.
Regardless of whether you have a traumatic brain injury or not, incorporate exercise as a consistent part of your routine, and enjoy the guaranteed vast benefits that come with it.