My twentysomething son is into the third year of his occupational therapy degree. He recently completed a Mental Health first aid course at uni. He was struck how important it is for people to know there’s someone there and particularly interested in making a difference in the area of men’s health. Now that he has Kovu (the chocolate lab) he walks every day. He lives close to university, so he walks there too. He also works out at the gym. I’m impressed. The only exercise he ever did before was walk from computer to fridge and back. His greeting is still, “what’s to eat?” as soon as he walks in the door. I’m okay with that.
Like his father, he doesn’t drink at all, but his friends do. He noticed between drinking, gaming and a sedentary IT work life, his friends were gaining weight. Without commenting about their lifestyle, he started up a walking group for a few of his mates. Much to his surprise they enjoyed the first walk with Kovu leading the way. The group grew larger. Other young men on the fringes of the group wanted to join in. The young men now go to various walking trails and parks around the metro area. He and his friends are looking trimmer. Importantly, he tells me, they talk about all kinds of things when they are walking. They stop and take photographs. They stop and examine nature. All this from a screen device fixated generation. To say I’m dumbfounded is an understatement.
When my son was younger I would wear one of those step counters and try to complete my 10,000 steps a day. He was spending too much time playing video games so I would pay him $1 for every kilometre he walked with me. The kid nearly killed me! He wanted me to exercise all the time. I ended up putting a cap on the weekly earnings!
I was recently at a workshop where the presenter, an American academic, talked about the pros and cons of anti-depressants and the current thinking about the role of walking and exercise in the treatment of depression. I’ll exercise caution about my thoughts on this but there is a side to me that shouts, “Yay! at last” this literature has found a place in the mainstream.
I don’t like company when I walk. I prefer silence. I often close my eyes and ‘walk’ through the south west big timber forests for just a few minutes. It makes me tingle. It may not be physical exercise but it is exercise for the mind. We need that too.
Until next time
a dawn bird