We have referred to research and studies in the past about how exercise can help people cope with mental health issues, such as depression and low self-esteem. However, this week the BBC has highlighted the case of Leigh Bailey, and how he managed to overcome his problems after joining a boxercise class in Croydon, London. He said that
“Before I started the Boxercise programme I was suffering from agoraphobia, low self-esteem and depression, I wasn’t working or leaving my house other than to attend medical appointments. It had a major impact in helping me regain ownership of my own life.” Leigh Bailey
Leigh did also have a change in medication, which he believes had an impact on his attitude towards exercise, that also helped.
“The first three sessions I found it very hard. It was the last place I wanted to be – I felt down, had low self-esteem and low confidence, but by the fourth session I was actually looking forward to it. By the fifth session I had a lot of confidence and had started to eat properly and sleep. I was managing to go out and see people and by the end of it I had got the boxing bug. Boxercise gave me self-motivation, rather than waiting for people to motivate me.”
The boxercise program that Leigh attended was set up in partnership with the mental health charity MIND and run by Duke McKenzie, a former professional boxer. Boxing gets a bad press due to some rare cases of serious brain damage, however boxing training is perfectly safe when conducted by a professional tutor, and the workouts are great fun as well as incredibly intensive.
Martial arts and boxing are possibly some of the most sociable exercise classes due the interaction between people during training. As you almost always train with a partner, in pad work, drils etc. the classes are more personal than other types of group exercise, like aerobics or spinning. A combination of social exercise and fitness seems to really help people suffering from depression and low self-esteem.