A couple weeks ago, my doctor told me to get some exercise. Not because I’m overweight. Not because I have high blood pressure or heart disease. No, he scolded me because after listening to me go on for twenty minutes about how depressed I had been over the past few months, he asked the three-word question I had hoped to dodge.
“Are you exercising?”
A year ago, I would have proudly told him I had just gotten my purple belt in Taekwondo. I would have told him that I was working out regularly. A few short years ago, I would have told him how I was training for and ran a marathon.
But sitting in my doctor’s office that day, I answered with a guilty shrug, “No.”
One of the problems with depression—at least for me—is that it can suck the energy, motivation, and vitality out of life. I think everyone has seen the articles and research about how much exercising helps with depression. I found myself in a circular situation. I wasn’t exercising because I was depressed. I was staying depressed because I wasn’t exercising.
The doctor boosted my anti-depressants along with strict orders to exercise, even if it is just walking. He must have seen through my less-than-enthusiastic “okays” and “sure, I’ll do thats”; he scheduled me to see him again in six weeks. He warned me he was going to ask the same question and I better have a better answer.
I’m a wimp. I don’t like to be scolded.
I thought about what I could do for exercise, besides walking… I’m sure you see where this is going since the title of this post is “B is for Bike.”
Now, I’ve been very vocal about how much I dislike cycling. Running was my love and even though running abused my left foot, I still mourn for that loss.
I’ve done road cycling. I don’t like it. I don’t like traffic and I live in southern California, where it’s almost impossible to avoid people who I’m certain are just waiting for the perfect opportunity to run me off the road.
I do love nature. I especially love being where there are no cars or crowds. So the day after my visit to the doctor, I told my husband that I was going to start mountain biking with him. He was surprised but glad… he’s been bugging me about cycling for almost two years.
He got my dusty, old mountain bike down from its hanging spot in the garage, pumped air into the tires, and checked the brakes. And we went mountain—or trail—biking. It was tough. I am embarrassingly out of shape, but I had fun. We’ve gone a few times since and I actually look forward to putting my body through the work… seeing how far I can push myself.
It is true; exercise really does help with depression. I’ve been happier and mentally healthier than I’ve been in almost a year. I feel like I’m coming back after being checked out for far too long.
And it feels good!