Women at shelter get physical, emotional boost from boot camp

SMU Psychology Professor Jasper Smits talks to The Dallas Morning News as part of a feature on the exercise boot camp at the Genesis Women's Shelter.

The Dallas Morning News

Pools of sweat blossomed through their clothes. Hands on hips, breathing heavily, hearts pounding, the women could not stop smiling. Even though they just finished a grueling, hourlong workout, their spirits were high. These women living at the Genesis Women's Shelter were starting to learn the importance of doing things for themselves.

As victims of domestic abuse, they weren't used to hearing encouragements shouted at them.

But Lin Johnson, the voice behind the supportive words they'd just heard, wants to change all that. She wants these women to feel, for once, that they have power . . . Johnson, along with her husband Jay, trains the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and runs fitness boot camps across Dallas. . .

Health experts note that exercise releases endorphins that can improve your mood.

Jasper Smits, an assistant professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University, said studies show exercise can produce "marked changes" in people with mild to moderate depression – positive effects similar to those of medication and psychotherapy.

"After about 15 weeks of consistent exercise, people start to show signs they're coming out of it," he said.

Smits emphasized that exercise cannot replace medical treatment. But it can help.

Read the full story.

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