If it was all the same, I’d just as soon sit on the couch and read a good book. But I know it’s not all the same. So this year, I tried out three new kinds of physical movement – yoga, water aerobics and Nordic walking.
I’d love to learn to effortlessly ice skate but, since I never mastered roller skating as a child, I fear I won’t ever get the hang of ice skating. I saw a movie recently where people of all ages and abilities were doing Tai Chai in a public park and that looked really fun. That’s next on my list. After that, maybe belly dancing.
You don’t need me to tell you that being active can help reduce the incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure and can alleviate the psychological symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. Regular movement, especially weight-bearing movement, can help you keep your bones strong. Absorbing Vitamin D while walking outdoors on a sunny winter afternoon is good for your mental health.
Adding some regular movement into your life will also help keep your brain active. I’m not talking about turning you into a gym rat (unless that idea is exciting to you). I’m talking about looking for ways to add movement and activity into your life.
Beyond the physical benefits, there are some emotional, even spiritual benefits as well. Sometimes, when I’m exercising, even when it’s hard, I remember to be grateful that I have all my limbs and that they are intact and able to work. I started doing this after I had a procedure done on my knee and had to stop exercising completely for a few weeks while I healed.
I learned that it’s no small miracle to be able to move my arms and legs. I’m grateful for the times when my breath returns to normal after I’ve exerted myself. I appreciate when I can see and hear the instructor, because that means that my eyes and ears are working. When I tie my sneakers, I try to remember to be grateful for the fact that I can stand on my own two feet.
Sometimes, adopting a healthy habit is a matter of reframing it, to see it as a gift, a way to help you grow, rather than a punishment. So yes, exercise is important for your overall health. But laughing at your own failed attempts to coordinate all your limbs in order to master a move, or being grateful that you still have all your limbs, can also be good for the soul.
Author: Rebeca Espinoza