‘Movement is medicine’: Exercise helps Nova Scotia man overcome depression

Click to play video: 'Marathon runner overcomes mental health battle through exercise'
Marathon runner overcomes mental health battle through exercise
WATCH ABOVE: A Nova Scotia man joined thousands of other runners Sunday for the 2017 Blue Nose Marathon. But there was a time when the starting line of a marathon was the last place he’d ever thought he’d be – May 21, 2017

The Blue Nose Marathon drew thousands of runners to Halifax streets on Sunday.

“Our first run was in 2004, and we had around 3,000 that year, and this year, we’ll be up close to 11,000,” Rod McCulloch said, the chair of the marathon.

Every runner has their own reason for participating but one man from Waycobah First Nation in Cape Breton found extra inspiration by honouring the memory of his best friend.

“A little over 10 years ago, after the death, the suicide of my best friend, it put me into a very bad state of depression. I ate a lot, stopped exercising and went up to about 260 pounds, very overweight,” Jarvis Googoo said.

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Googoo struggled with depression for years before reaching out for help.

A message he wants to share with others who may be battling mental health issues.

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“It’s OK to ask for help. Someone out there loves you, someone close. It’s perfectly fine to ask for help. I asked for help when I knew I needed it. There’s no shame in it at all,” he said.

Googoo found relief through exercise and now shares his passion with others as a group fitness instructor.

Running a marathon is something he never thought he’d do, but McCulloch says there are many runners who used to be in Googoo’s shoes.

“The word ‘marathon,’ sounds pretty big. However, if you’ve never run before and you’re overweight and somehow you get through the process of losing 100 pounds and run a 5K, that is like finishing a marathon,” McCulloch said.

And those are words Googoo can relate to.

“I openly tell people I was very, very overweight at one time and I barely could do 5K without losing my breath,” he said.

On Sunday, Googoo finished his second full marathon.

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