Years ago a United Church moderator spoke at my church and I drove him back to Toronto following the service. He was very pastoral during his term, trying to figure out how to be supportive of beleaguered clergy in turbulent times. He sought my suggestions and I offered that the denomination might work out an arrangement with a gym chain for discounted memberships, something which now exists.
He was diplomatically dubious when I went on to suggest that we be able to use continuing education funds for physical fitness, or access a fund set up for that purpose. His reaction was much the same as that of other church officials with whom I've broached this. Even though we have an aging clergy base in the United Church and do lots of handwringing about the health costs of our benefit plan we are still reactive rather than proactive.
I thought about this yesterday when I heard and read of a new report saying that physical activity is a greater indicator of health than cholesterol levels and hypertension. Doctors in some jurisdictions are now using prescription pads for exercise instead of depending largely on medication. Only about 20 percent of Canadians get the 150 minutes per week suggested as a minimum. Think about it -- 168 hours in a week and we can't manage 2/12 for physical activity?
I figure that activity is also a contributor to spiritual health and wholeness. I go to the gym for weight training, but this is my least favourite form of exercise. Ruth and I both cycle to work regularly (5 km each way) and I'll continue to do so as long as the roads are safe. I cycled to Bridge St this morning.
We love riding along the water here in Belleville. We are also walker/hikers and we love being on the water. We have kayaks and canoes and we've paddled a couple of dozen times through this season. When we're outside we are attuned to Creator and Creation. The other day I scuffled through the leaves of an oak woods and described it as a playful spiritual practice. It evoked the sound and fragrance of childhood.
Jesus was an outdoor guy, so I figure we should follow his example. He got out on the water, and even walked on it!