Ugandan long-distance runner relieves stress and depression through sport
Sangau Ahmad, a third year student in the school of business, has two years of accounting completed, and is in his second year in human resources management program.
Not only does he run for George Brown’s cross-country team, he spends any extra time he has playing for North America’s semi-pro cricket team out of Brampton.
As a Ugandan native, he was exposed to many sports from a young age which include cricket, soccer, tennis and field hockey.
“Athletics is in in my blood,” said Ahmad. “My dad was an athlete as well, he used to swim and run long distances, and my sister is living in the states and received a scholarship for long-distance running.”
This varsity athlete came to Canada five years ago because of the great education system. Having moved here in the winter, he only had a short time to get used to it, as he was raised in a country where there is no such thing as winter.
“For my first year in Canada, I was inside because of winter, and for a week I didn’t know anyone, I only knew my classmates and they all lived in a different areas,” said Ahmad. “So for about a week I was really depressed, I stayed at home the whole day and didn’t do anything. It really killed me.”
Depression became a common feeling of his that he had felt since he left his family behind to continue his education.
“My family isn’t here, and I miss them 100 per cent,” he said. “I needed to do something to keep my mind off the stress.”
Because of the amount of running he did in Uganda, when he moved here he wanted to join the cross-country team.
Ahmad finds himself lost without athletics, “it helps keep my mind off everything;” when he finds himself getting worked up about exams, or if he’s feeling homesick, he will run 10 kilometres to clear his mind.
“After that I feel refreshed and forget about what was stressing me out,” says Ahmad.
According to University of Toronto’s PhD candidate George Mammen, co-author of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a combination of 25 research articles proves that moderate exercise can prevent episodes of depression in the long term for people of all ages.
With plans of passing on his life lessons to the younger generation, Ahmad wants to help children channel their inner athlete to help fight depression and ward off stress.
“I want to inspire the younger generation, and I want to be that person who participates in all these different sports activities, so when the kids are growing up I want them know that if Sangau was playing multiple sports, why can’t they?”
Athletics doesn’t just help people to fight off depression, and as a firm believer that athletics is the best way to overcome stress and depression, he says, “sports don’t only help people get better, they help you relieve stress and depression.”
He believes that “when you play a sport, during that time you will forget everything that’s bugging you because you’re having fun right then and there; it doesn’t matter how old you are to join any sports activity.”
By continuing to play sports, Ahmad says your body will realize and forget about the depression that is making you sink further, and that not only will it help you mentally, it will help you physically.
As advice, Ahmad feels that you should “not let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything because you can do anything in the world as long as you put in the effort, be determined and know what you want. When you do that, your goals and your future opens up. At the end, you’ll be able to achieve what you want.”