Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Pars Tres Wednesday November 29, 2017
[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2Bx3rX8]
Now – let's be honest, for some of us this is a dirty word, isn't it?
For some of us, double games at school was a nightmare; one to be dreaded, endured with grim stoicism and recollected with shudders.
But that doesn't mean we can get out of working this body of ours. I mean, if we were a piece of machinery –a car, for instance – we couldn't keep it in the garage for twenty years or so and expect it to start first time, could we? (Okay – so all of you who have watched Wood Allen's 'Sleeper' will say, 'Twenty years! I'd expect it to start after two hundred!' But that only happens if you're built by VW, darling!)
I'm sure we've all heard and read about the numerous studies which have shown that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in moderate cases of depression. It's something to do with endorphins, I believe. Endorphins are those chemicals released into your body which give you a 'natural high'. Sadly, you can't buy them on street corners from slightly dodgy looking young men wearing baggy jackets with lots of pockets.
But – yes – reluctantly – we must accept that exercise is good for us. If we can do it, that is. When I was in my deepest depression and my friends (even friends here) recommended 'a brisk walk', I would raise my hollowed eyed face to explain that it was as much as I could do to walk to the bathroom and back. My trembling legs would not even take me to the end of the garden. When you're shaking like a jelly balanced on a jackhammer, exercise is a cruel impossibility.
But exercise as a tool in our chest of preventative 'medicines' is another thing. A good thing.
But what type of exercise?
I have a friend who plays tennis as often as she can. She loves being out on the courts, pitting herself against a competitor. Even when it's a friendly game, she likes to win. She plays netball too. She likes to exercise with other people.
But then, she loved games at school.
For some, exercise is a solitary – well – exercise. They like to compete against themselves only, pushing to run further or faster; or to row fifty more strokes in that same ten minutes.
For others, exercise is not about pushing one's limits, it is about relaxation, enjoyment, meditation.
If I cannot swim in the morning, I like to take myself out for a walk at lunchtime. I don't stride along at a great pace, swinging my arms and breathing deeply through my nose in an intentional fashion. Instead, I give myself time to appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes I will stop to take photographs of flowers or the view.
Working one's body may produce the 'high' that combats depression, but the meditative component, the beauty of the natural world seen while walking must play a part too.
I think so, anyway.
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.