Professional hockey superstar Shayne Corson knows the importance of staying active. Not only is it good for physical health, it’s also an excellent outlet for keeping mentally fit – something Shayne is a big advocate for. He’s been open about his struggles with anxiety, but he was also diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 15, so being physically healthy has a dual purpose – and he wants everyone, professional athlete or not, to understand the benefits proper fitness can have.
We had the opportunity to ask Shayne a few questions about the importance of fitness, how it ties into mental health, and dealing with the challenges of ulcerative colitis at the same time.
How do you utilize fitness as an outlet for dealing with any potential stress?
It is my sanity break from the stresses of everyday life. It is a time for myself where there are no screens, calls, and so on. Focusing on working out and getting into the zone with physical activity gives me a mental break from stress – kind of like hitting the ‘reset’ button.
What's the best advice you can give to someone who wants to get into fitness to get into shape and improve their health? Where should they start?
Walk before you can run. Start slow and carve out time in your week to do it. Find an exercise or sport you enjoy and stick to a schedule.
You live with ulcerative colitis - what sort of impact does this have on your daily routine and your fitness?
At its worst it had a huge impact – there were days I couldn’t leave the house, I would be on and off the toilet all day during a bad episode. When I would go out, I would always know where every washroom was on my route. I had to watch what I ate & drank depending on how serious the episode I was having, had to take a lot of medication with side effects, had a loss of energy, and still need to endure regular colonoscopies.
How has living with colitis changed your outlook on life?
It hasn’t really. When I was diagnosed I looked at it as a challenge that I would meet head on. I told myself I would still attain my goals. I had a lot of support from my family and a caring doctor, but in saying that, it has shown me that there are people less fortunate that are out there. I was pretty lucky compared to some others.
For you, what's been the key to overcoming some of the health setbacks you've dealt with throughout your career?
Support and a positive attitude for sure helped me cope with the colitis – the mental health issues were tougher. I didn’t really understand it or what was causing it, but eventually seeking the right help and getting support helped me a lot.
What sort of fitness advice would you give your younger self?
I wished I would have spent more time concentrating on my mental health and understood the benefits of prioritizing it sooner. It’s great to train the physical part of your body but it is important to train the brain as well.
Shayne Corson is a paid Sonnet spokesperson.