My mental health recovery really took off when I realized how much exercise makes me human
I was on the Olympic Judo Team and trained four hours a day from the age of about 13 until age 22. If I wasn’t at Judo practice, I was working out at home. When I was in high school, there was the night I did 1000 pushups in one night. I liked to read, so I used to make up workouts I could read to, like wall sits, where you sit with your thighs parallel to the floor in an imaginary chair. I’d rest for the first paragraph and the last paragraph on each pair of pages, then work the legs for all the rest of the paragraphs.
Now that I’m retired from competitive Judo, I exercise more often by bicycling since I can combine transportation with exercise and it’s very convenient. However, sometimes start bumping shoulders with my friends on purpose because I like the physical contact and I know it’s time to get to a Judo class. Exercise makes me human but also sometimes it’s very helpful to tackle people in a socially appropriate setting.
I didn’t know how much I need exercise and how exercise makes me human until my best friend and board chairman Ken Braiterman pointed it out. He’d been visiting me and I’d missed two days of workouts because we were carpooling. He said, “Wow, you get sick and grumpy really fast when you don’t work out.” Now I know I have to have a least one good workout each day. It’s like the exercise pulls out all the piss and vinegar that fills up my body from the emotional distress I have in my life.
Here’s a great poem about why I love bicycling and how exercise makes me human: