By Ralph Hood
Most of us know someone who suffers from depression. I am one of those people, and have been for most of my life. This column will not say much about depression itself, but about how to minimize the problems caused by depression.
Many moons ago I learned a simple way to reduce the pain of depression—regular exercise. Repeat, regular exercise works well for depressed people.
Back in the 1980s I made a living as a professional speaker/trainer, traveling all over America and several foreign countries. I also wrote regularly for several publications and taught a college course on some weekends.
The schedule was tough. After an evening dinner speech I might get to bed late. The next morning I had to get up before dawn to catch an airline to another location. I remember getting less than one hour of sleep the night before I was on the Oprah show.
My schedule was tense, and I had to get there—on time. That’s not something depressives cope with very well.
But I did regular exercise.
I walked. Regularly.
One year I walked every single day between Jan. 1 and mid-September, when I caught the flu.
I remember walking in the rain at almost midnight in Kansas, walking in the rain in Scotland between sheep fields, and climbing from the bottom floor to the top floor of a tall Marriot Hotel three times in one night.
It all worked.
These days, wife Gail and I walk the beautiful trails around Erwin. I walk neither as far as, nor as fast as, I did when young.
It still works.
Thank God for Gail—especially in the days when we lived in Huntsville, Alabama. I can remember Gail telling me in no uncertain terms, “You are totally out of line! Get the dog and go to the mountain.” After the first few minutes I would realize that Gail was right. It was important for me to walk—regularly!
That dog, BTW, was named Scamp. He was always there, and always ready to walk.
One warning about exercise: Don’t try to start by immediately walking too fast or too far! It can ruin your good intentions, and perhaps even put you in bed for awhile.
Start slowly at first, then add a bit more and/or a bit faster. The great orator Zig Ziglar said he started by walking “one driveway and one mailbox.” Then he added more as it became comfortable.
Be careful now, y’hear?
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