By Kevin Kolodziejski
Listen to the speech found on YouTube that Deion Sanders gives to his football team before an off-season workout, and it will give you extra juice for your next ride with a few goosebumps thrown in for good measure. At least that’s what happened to me. Though I certainly didn’t expect any juice to flow — or goosebumps to grow.
In fact, because Neon Deion had been such a hey-look-at-me bigmouth as a player (albeit a superbly gifted one), I almost trashed the video clip my brother sent me without watching it.
Am I ever glad I didn’t.
While I lack the football expertise to know if he’s a top-notch coach as well as a tremendous recruiter, I do know this. The guy who had been prouder than Punch as a player (as well as the best shut-down corner the NFL has ever seen) has become a masterful motivator — and carries in his pocket at least five quarters more than the typical dime-store philosopher.
Sanders as a Coach
After compiling a 27-6 record in three years and winning two conference titles at Jackson State, Sanders accepted the job at Colorado University, a once-proud football school that has fallen on hard times. The Buffaloes have won just 27 of 103 games since joining the Pac-12 Conference in 2010 and 1 of 12 last year. So his speech needed not only to create a positive vibe but quash a bad mojo.
Sanders as a Philosopher
In the video, Sanders enters the room as Bill Withers’ 1977 hit song, “Lovely Day,” plays and wants to know if anyone knows the name of the tune. He then asks what makes a day lovely. After entertaining a few responses, Sanders gets to the heart of the matter:
“I do not have bad days. . . I may have a bad moment, I may even have a bad minute or a bad hour, but I would never allow it to get to the point where I have a bad day. Because I’m in control of that. You do not have the remote control of my life to turn me off and on. I have control of that.”
“So knowing that you have the propensity, the power, and the authority to make your day a lovely day, why don’t you do it? . . . What are you waiting on?”
If you’re not a CU football player but a cyclist, what you may very well be waiting on is your next ride. That’s because cycling’s not only a great way to work out your legs and your lungs, but possibly (along with other forms of exercise) the best way to work out the bad thoughts in your mind.
And that, my friend, surely leads to a lovely day.
Exercise as an Anti-Depressant
While numerous studies have found all forms of exercise to be effective for managing depression, anxiety, and psychological distress, the American Psychological Association Clinical Practice Guidelines still recognize medication and psychotherapy as the top forms of treatment and call exercise an “alternate” form. Though not a negative designation, it’s hardly the ringing endorsement that a few researchers recently gave exercise after they conducted the most comprehensive and broadest type of study to date about the link between exercise and mental health.
Study Finds Exercise Better at Battling the Blues
A slew of researchers at the University of South Australia searched 12 electronic databases for all relevant materials published prior to January 1, 2022 and found a total of 1039 pertinent trials inside 97 reviews. Called an umbrella review — a systematic study of all previous research to provide an overall assessment on a specific topic — their efforts led to information on more than 125,000 individuals. The statistical analysis they did subsequently saw print in the February 2023 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and “underscores the need for PA [physical activity] to be a mainstay approach for managing depression and anxiety.”
Now I’m not sure why the researchers chose “underscores” instead of “emphasizes,” but they’re essentially one in the same — so here’s what I’ll underscore about the review for you. Those looking to improve mild-to-moderate states of depression, anxiety, or psychological distress were 150 percent more likely to find it by engaging in prescribed exercise for about 12 weeks than by receiving therapy or medication.
Which begs the question: What would you rather do when feeling a bit blue? Take meds, a trip to a doctor or psychologist’s office, or a ride (short and intense is actually best) on a bike?
‘Can We Make Today a Lovely Day?’
It would be inappropriate — and also irresponsible — for the researchers to argue that the 150-percent difference means exercise should supersede therapy and medication as the means to improve poor mental health in all situations. But expressing the need for it to become “a mainstay approach” shows they feel it should be seen as much more than the “alternate” form of treatment that the American Psychological Association Clinical Practice Guidelines claim it to be.
So if these researchers would’ve been part of the group listening to Sanders’ motivational speech that finished with him asking, “Can we make today a lovely day?”, they would’ve probably asked a question of their own.
“Can we find the time to exercise?”
Do your legs, lungs, and mind a favor, my friend, and take whatever measures need to be taken so you answer both in the affirmative.
Kevin Kolodziejski began his writing career in earnest in 1989. Since then he’s written a weekly health and fitness column and his articles have appeared in magazines such as “MuscleMag,” “Ironman,” “Vegetarian Times,” and “Bicycle Guide.” He has Bachelor and Masters degrees in English from DeSales and Kutztown Universities.
A competitive cyclist for more than 30 years, Kevin won two Pennsylvania State Time Trial championships in his 30’s, the aptly named Pain Mountain Time Trial 4 out of 5 times in his 40s, two more state TT’s in his 50’s, and the season-long Pennsylvania 40+ BAR championship at 43.