Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fighting off your demons by being active

Fighting off your demons by being active | Nov 30th -0001

I came across an interesting story that’s worth a look, especially if you’re the type that is battling unhealthy patterns in your own life.

The story opens with the tale of Mishka Shubaly, a writer, author, musician and an admitted recovering alcoholic. He took up running and found it to be an excellent substitute for drinking. He’s now an ultra runner and is clean and sober.

It’s a great personal story, but the piece I was reading goes on. It talks about laboratory tests on rats which showed animals exposed to addictive narcotics and other drugs were less likely to consume the drugs when they had access to an exercise wheel.

Exercise, it would seem, can be an excellent way to fight addictive urges.

I’ve never had an addiction to alcohol or drugs, but I can attest to the cathartic and even healing properties of exercise. Physically, the endorphins are just good for the mind and soul. And that’s on top of the physical benefits.

Mentally and emotionally, an exercise habit has similar properties. I know a lot of people who seem to be “addicted” to negativity. They focus on their problems. Or politics. Or whatever. They’re not “happy” unless they have somewhere to direct their anger, fear or sorrow.

Last week I was running trails and not feeling particularly strong or ambitious. So I slowed down, stopped and took a look around. High on a hill but still in the woods, I got a good glimpse of some beautiful countryside. I hadn’t really stopped there to look around before, but I’m glad I did. That was time well spent, and a positive mindset ensued.

Contrast that to the person who is reading about the latest political conspiracy, dire prediction or other piece of bad news on the Internet. Or the person compelled to slam down another shot or take another hit.

Addictions don’t all have to be about substances. But escaping them can, at least in part, be found in being active.

I’m curious to see how these studies evolve. And if we’ll see more stories similar to that of Mishka Shubaly.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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