Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Gift of Exercise

Have you ever thought of exercise as a gift? Many of us, me included, view exercise as a daily chore to perform. It's a means to the end of controlling weight and becoming more healthy. It falls into the category of "shoulds" rather than "wants."

However, if we see exercise as drudgery, how many of us will do it regularly? In today's New York Times there is an article by Jane Brody titled, "To Keep Moving, Look Beyond the Physical." In this article she explores the non-physcial benefits of exercise.

Dr. Michelle Segar, a motivational psychologist, is quoted saying, "We've made exercise feel like a chore to most people, not like a gift we give ourselves." She advocates looking at the rewards of exercise: feeling better psychologically and spiritually.

When you exercise with others, there is a feeling of camaraderie and social fellowship. As I've said before, when I row with others, I work harder and show up more consistently. When we exercise daily, we reduce stress and sleep better. Also, studies have shown that exercise can help reduce anxiety and depression

There are spiritual benefits to exercise as well. For example, when we walk mindfully, walking becomes a form of meditation. I know many persons who have found a deep spiritual connection in activities the rest of us consider exercise: skiing, running, rowing and playing sports.

The greatest benefits of exercise come when we can enjoy it as a form of play. When exercise becomes play, it is fun and joyful. As play, exercise can nourish body, mind and spirit.

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