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How Changing Your Lifestyle Can Fix Your Mental Health & Why Depression and Anxiety Are Not Disorders with David Bidler

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  December 6, 2023

“It’s not that exercise is an antidepressant, it’s that not exercising is a depressant.” So says this week’s guest – and he’s redefining youth mental health education for the 21st century in line with this powerful belief.

David Bidler is a social entrepreneur dedicated to reinventing education for the 21st century. In 2019, he founded Physiology First University a non-profit education centre, which teaches the latest science of the brain and body by offering classes – in neuroscience, exercise physiology, sauna and cold exposure, to all ages but with a particular focus on teenagers and adolescents.

David’s core belief is that if we could teach all the kids around the world the fundamental skills of breathing, nutrition, movement and rest, as a priority over the current education system, we could see a huge change to the rates of poor mental health.

He believes that we’re often doing young people a disservice by labelling them with mental health disorders, instead of looking at their lifestyles and giving them the tools to feel better. His facility teaches students about anxiety by helping them experience it in a controlled setting, so they know exactly what the fight-or-flight response feels like. They increase their own heart rate, through exercise and then lower it, through breathing techniques. And so, because they know what anxiety feels like, they can ‘reclaim’ agency over their anxiety, by realising it’s not a loss of control and by learning – through first-hand experience – how they can navigate their own nervous systems to effectively manage it.

David’s goal is to put Physiology First campuses all across the globe – he wants to create a healthy alternative to the current educational system – one that integrates an academic curriculum alongside a health one. 

This is a fascinating conversation that will give you a fresh understanding of your own physiology. Ever since I came across David on Instagram, I have been inspired by his work and what he is trying to do. He is a passionate individual, trying his best to make the world a better place. I hope you enjoy listening.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of the conversation here:

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Related Feel Better Live More Episodes:

#370 A New Model for Solving Anxiety with Dr Russell Kennedy

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*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP