Step 2 Exercise

Man balancing on the front wheel of his mountainbike while exercising.

Exercise

Exercise is essential to having a healthy body and mind.  We were designed to be active, and exercise aids every  aspect of our lives  from our immune system, energy levels, sleep quality, stress management and memory and concentration.  

According to research conducted by the National Institute on Aging and the Penn State Social Science Research Institute, there is a direct correlation between the amount of exercise an individual does and pleasant feelings such as excitement and enthusiasm.

The most beneficial form of exercise follows an  INTERVAL TRAINING pattern. (It doesn’t matter what exercise type you choose). Interval training consists of a series of high-intensity workouts interspersed with rest periods.  There are many variations of interval training, but a fun and effective technique was developed and studied by a group of Danish researchers and is called 10-20-30 training.  You walk (or run, row, or cycle) for 30 seconds at a comfortable speed.  Then you increase the pace to moderate difficulty for 20 seconds, and then you go all-out for 10 seconds.  Repeat that circuit four more times without pause and then rest for two minutes by walking slowly or standing still.  Repeat the whole process and your work-out is complete – in 14 minutes.  This is ideal for short periods after meals.  All-terrain walking, that includes straights, uphills and downhills, has a built-in interval training component and makes for fun outings on the weekend when you have more time.

Commit to exercising for at least 30-60 minutes per day by taking these practical steps:

  • Find a form of exercise you enjoy.  Walking is a great option since the human body was designed to walk, so just do it!
  • Make exercise a habit – first thing in the morning, after every meal or  in the evening.
  • Other good activities include swimming,rowing, cycling, or running.
  • The more you do, the more you can do.  Start slowly and just keep on going.

Another important aspect of the way we carry ourselves involves our posture and body language.  Our thoughts, our feelings and our physiology are reflected in the way we hold our bodies.  Dr Erik Peper, at San Francisco State University, conducted extensive research exploring the correlation between posture and mood.  In one experiment, test subjects either skipped or slouched down the passage.  Those who skipped reported feeling energetic, happy and positive, while those who slouched experienced the opposite – sadness, loneliness, isolation and sleepiness.

Phil 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”  And how doe we get to the place where we are ALWAYS rejoicing?  How does a rejoicing attitude reflect in our bodies?  Is it scrunched up, unsmiling, hunched over with a bent head, arms folded across the chest?  No, definitely not!  “But thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  The posture of rejoicing is the posture of victory.  Imagine what an olympic athlete looks like when he wins his race…. Arms outstretched to heaven, chin lifted, a huge smile on his/her face.  We can’t always go around looking like this, but we can use this stance of victory to make us feel better when we’re low. It sends the message to our brains that this is how we feel, and the body secretes the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine.  So we fake it till we make it, and by doing it over and over again we fake it until we become it..  And on a spiritual level, we remind ourselves that we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  What a promise!

Additional to elevating our mood, researchers have found that what we call the “victory or the praise stance” (standing upright, arms outstretched to heaven, feet apart, chin lifted, smiling) also has a positive effect on our memory, our confidence, our digestion, the alignment of our bones and in the prevention of headaches.

This attitude can also be reflected in a sitting pose or while walking.  Keeping the spine straight, shoulders back, arms comfortably next to your body, chin up and with a smile on your face. This posture sends a message to your brain that you’re feeling joyful, confident, passionate, enthusiastic, and comfortable.  If you believe it, so will the outside world, and you will receive more positive feedback, thus creating a positive feedback cycle that can well change your life.

The bottom line is that our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcomes.