Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Start Huffin' and Puffin'!

I was at the gym yesterday and saw blog reader Ian, as well as another St. Paul's member. In fact there are a number of our members who hang out there fairly regularly and we all huff and puff in our various ways. Now someone like Ian is a young buck and looks fit, as does reader Johnny who is diligent in his physical regime. Others of us are making some concessions to age, and we do our best.

It turns out that "doing our best" makes a difference. According to recent studies, being physically active enough to work up a sweat and raise the heart rate at least three or four times a week has positive results in body, mind and spirit. They don't put it that way, but here are the findings. Keeping up this exercise pattern after age 40 can extend our lifespan by ten to fifteen years. It promotes the growth of new brain cells and aids memory. It reduces the risk of dementia by up to a third. And exercise is a mood enhancer which can lessen the possibility of depression.

What are we all waiting for! Of course, as good as it sounds, exercise takes time and will power. It can be a real challenge for busy parents and commuters and those who just don't enjoy working up a sweat. My wife Ruth and I find that the accountability of being active together is a strong motivator. When age sixty is out there on the horizon it gets easier to find excuses.

When Beth Lettner, our current pastoral care person was our parish nurse St. Paul's had a greater emphasis on the balance of body, mind and spirit. We changed Beth's job description and while we still have her dedication, we lost something in translation, it seems to me.

I have confidence in the life to come, but we were created to enjoy this present life to its fullness as well. What are your reflections on physical activity? Do you wish you were doing more? Should congregations be in the business of promoting physical health?


johnny said...

Aside from the obvious health benefits, I find exercise to be an absolute necessity for mental well-being. It is one of the best ways in dealing with stress, and I love the feeling of relaxation after a particularly energetic workout. A bad day in the squash court is better than a good day in the office!

I think it would be good if the church promoted not just spiritual well being, but mental, physical and emotional. It is only when we are functioning well on all four that we can truly say we are "healthy".

IanD said...

Amen, johnny.

My next challenge is to get my church attendance up!

You're right on all fronts though. I often think about how we could totally transform this country if we could only get more Canadians up and out more; get more of them into strength training; and finally get them on the proper dietary track.

Can you imagine the stress we'd take off ourselves, but also the health care system?

sjd said...

It's one thing for the church to promote fitness, it's another for the sheep/cats to decide to go along with it.

It seems to me that St-Pauls has or has had a number of fitness oriented programs like Yoga, and there was an exercise class with Nancy Martin a while ago. We participate in Softball, and Hockey leagues. We have teams that are in about every walk for whatever is going. Terry Fox being the next one.

I'm one of those people who gets exercise in spurts. Last Friday, and Saturday I played 3 games of softball, and 3 hours of paint ball Saturday morning. Just starting to feel my legs today.

lionlamb said...

Okay, I'm assigning Ian to do lead calisthenics before worship, and Johnny to take us a run afterward...and possibly organize a squash tournament.

Good point all, and sjd, you're right. Yoga is still going strong, but despite Nancy's excellent leadership the class petered out.

Thanks to you and a few others the tradition of the ball teams continues. As you say, the challenge is consistent fitness throughout the year. I sometimes feel like a gerbil on the gymn machines during the winter, but spring always comes again!