Paul Andersen: Fair Game | AspenTimes.com

Paul Andersen: Fair Game

Paul Andersen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

At my private health club there are no fancy machines with stainless steel arms that swirl you around like a piece of taffy. There are no bench presses or mechanized weight machines or stair-step devices or bicycles-to-nowhere. There are no mirrors for self-preening where one may glory in the flex of muscles, the ripped torso, the sculpted frame, the buff bod.

There are no trainers to drill a grueling regimen and no pumping beat that some call music. There are no staff and no facilities other than a few basic implements. This keeps membership fees down. It’s the only health club I can afford.

My private health club is very, very exclusive. Aside from an occasional drop-in guest, I am the only member. When I work out, I have no one to posture for other than my dog. My health club is cheap, but it offers major rewards.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, exercise has been found to be a worthy treatment for depression. This discovery was made at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, after several patients mentioned to their doctor that they felt happier when they went for a walk. These patients were all suffering from depression.

Most patients hospitalized for depression take meds to lift them out of their torpor. The doctor in the article decided to try a mix of exercise with the meds. He discovered that exercise gave an added psychological boost to his patients.

Not only is exercise a good thing for body and mind, it elevates the spirit without the unpleasant side effects of antidepressant meds. Sadly, most patients with depression have been taught to swallow a pill for their problems. Such is Western medicine: Swallow a pill and everything gets better.

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The article resolved: “There’s no reason for people with unyielding depression not to talk now with their doctors about exercise as a treatment option. You get additional benefits in cardiovascular health and reductions in other disease risks. Plus, the cost profile is very favorable. Exercise, as medicines go, is cheap.”

No one’s exercise program is cheaper than mine, and it’s warded off depression for all these years. Here’s how it works: My regimen starts each summer with a strange-looking exercise machine. It has two wheels, a long, double-handled bar, and a rotary assembly that offers resistance. It’s called a push mower. I push it around my yard for half an hour getting a great workout. Not only do I feel energized when I’m done, my lawn is mowed!

My next workout entails a simple implement with a long, smooth wooden shaft. On the end of the shaft is a thin, curved piece of flattened steel. This implement is called a shovel. I take it in my hands and, using biceps, triceps and dozens of muscles in my backs and legs, jam the steel end into a pile of dirt. I flex my abs, lift with my back, legs and arms, and heave the dirt into my garden.

After a few sets with the shovel, I switch to another implement, also with a long wooden handle. This one has a steel toothed configuration on the end. It’s called a rake. I push it back and forth in the dirt, stretching all my muscle groups, right down to the gluteus maximus. When I’m done, my body glows with supple energy, plus, I have a garden where I can grow my own food.

In the fall, I work a different set of muscle groups with a long, thin sheet of flexible steel that has sharp serrations on one edge. It’s called a saw. I slide the notched edge back and forth over a log, working my lats, abs, biceps, triceps, quads – you name it. After a hundred reps I’ve had a great workout, there’s no sign of depression, and I have a pile of firewood to burn in my stove.

In the winter, I utilize an odd-looking workout tool with a curved metal handle attached to a plastic basin with a straight metal edge. It’s called a snow scoop. I push the scoop against fresh snow that collects on my driveway. Talk about a workout! This even gives my internal organs a sweat. And when I’m done, my back is strong, my arms are pumped, and my driveway is clear of snow.

For anyone with depression, I am happy to offer a free trial membership to my private health club. Call for an appointment today!