Your First Ward Roving Reporter – Staying fit – physically and mentally!

First Ward Your Roving Reporter – Staying fit – physically and mentally!

Trust me, no one better than me understands the beyond bizarre proposition of Jeff Ward somehow becoming the voice of positive reason. I fully expect to see Rod Serling’s gleaming visage pop up in the downstairs bathroom mirror before the day is over.

But strange times call for stranger measures, and my circle of close friends knows I generally embrace a positive outlook. Why would I make the effort to change the planet – or at least Kane County – if that weren’t the case?

Aside from some rather hopeful Illinois coronavirus case numbers, the most positive thing I’m seeing is the incredible number of people – particularly couples and families – who are suddenly talking long walks together.

My long-time readers are well aware of how I’ve plied those Fisher Farms asphalt paths, sometimes twice a day, for 20 long years. But prior to this spring, my internal running joke was to tally how many consecutive walks/runs I could get in without passing a single human being.

On some winter weeks that count would hit double digits.

Take a Walk

But yesterday (Sunday March 22), my lovely wife and I encountered at least 25 people along our two-mile jaunt in that 25-degree weather. That was a Fisher Farms record, and it was astounding and heartening to see so many people getting exercise in the crisp fresh air!

Before and beyond the coronavirus era, a British longitudinal (long) study proved that runners’ and brisk walkers’ bodies are 20 years medically younger than their couch potato counterparts. So, a 60-year-old walker has the internal constitution of a sedentary 40-year-old.

Better yet, every doctor on the planet will tell you that, not only is exercise the best defense against any disease, but the inevitable endorphin release has a magical effect on your mood, not to mention that aerobic endeavors tend to clear your mind.

Think about it! The only time you’ll ever see a depressed runner is when he or she can’t run!

Then there’s this one!

Per every mental health professional I’ve ever spoken with, with the exception of introverts like yours truly, Homo Sapiens is the kind of critter that requires regular social interaction. And even though social media can suck at times, it does provide us with a unique mechanism to stay in touch during a somewhat strange “shelter in place” pandemic.

I’m seeing people host video watch parties, virtual happy hours, and, of course, you have your favorite First Ward roving reports among others. I have stopped “following” the Facebook doomsayers as a matter of psychological self-defense, but that’s about as far as the negative possibilities go.


Though it’s kinda difficult to do right now, please do your best to avoid going into survival mode! It’s not where we are and that kind of base instinctual response creates a level of stress that makes you much more susceptible to getting sick. We’re not at war, and while the economic fallout might mean a somewhat difficult recovery, if we stand together as we have in the past, you’ll be surprised how quickly we will come back from this!

What I can tell you is, whenever I’m feeling a sense of lack, I immediately shut it down by starting a daily gratitude list of at least five things that make me happy. If I had to do it right now it would include:

  • Having a truly amazing group of friends for an introvert
  • Being in the best health I’ve ever been
  • Getting to do what I love to do every day
  • My 43 autographed baseballs (Dick Allen just came today!)
  • A family I can count on

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all New Agey on you, but these kinds of crises do have an amazing capacity to remind us of what’s truly important in life – and what isn’t!

Lastly, take this rather unique opportunity to accomplish the more solitary goals your formerly busy life has prevented you from accomplishing. Read every Sherlock Holmes short story (2,000 paperback pages), Moby Dick, or renew your love for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.

Better yet! Write something yourself!

Knock those things off your “honey do” list, clean out the basement, pull your old vinyl jazz albums and turntable out, go through your closest to determine what can be donated, and call those long-distance friends with whom you haven’t spoken in a while.

My new semi-long-term propositions are to read all seven volumes (3,418 pages) of Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ and to listen to the top 50 jazz albums of all time. I’m on number seven, ‘Somethin’ Else’ by the legendary Cannonball Adderley.

The bottom line is, it’s much more difficult to fall into a coronavirus depression or panic when you make an effort to remain active and positive. And every last option we’ve discussed today has been scientifically proven to boost your immune system.

We will get through this!

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