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Exercise & Grief

I don’t mean to start the week off on a “down” note, but an unexpected event happened over the weekend that triggered the idea behind this brief post. As I left my apartment Saturday morning for the short walk to the gym, I called my parents to say hello. My mom then broke the sad news that a very dear family friend in Florida had lost her battle to cancer.

Her name was Anne, and she was like a surrogate grandmother to me during all my years traveling to Florida.  She was a fun, feisty Irish gal who always had a sparkle in her eye and a fun story to share.  While I was relieved to know she was finally at peace and reunited with her husband Bill, I was also sad and found myself reduced to tears in the street. (Luckily in New York City, no one finds this odd.)  I composed myself, said a prayer and continued on to the gym. I then unleashed my sorrow in an intense cardio workout that lasted just shy of 60 minutes.

I realize not everyone is going to run to the gym after receiving sad news to jump on an elliptical machine or start circuit training.  Each of us must deal with grief in our own way.  This experience, however, reminded me how exercise has helped me through some of life’s not-so-great moments and given me the strength to face the reality of those moments with a bit more clarity and energy.  Whether I was dealing with the loss of a loved one, an illness in my family, the demise of a relationship or trouble at work, even something as simple as a good, long walk managed to help clear my mind and unburden my heart  just the slightest bit.

No doubt life will throw challenges our way that make it difficult to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous.  When that happens, sometimes having a good cry or breaking a major sweat can help you get back on the path to the place you really want to be.

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