A Practical Peacemaker Ponders . . .

Back Up Next

Making the Fitness Commitment

8/6/2009

Our ability to act peacefully is greatly enhanced if we feel good. Taking care of ourselves physically is likely to increase our optimism, open our hearts, and boost our stamina, in addition to establishing and maintaining a trim weight and giving us improved long-term health. The better we feel, the better our chances of being attentive to our own and othersí needs and responding to them positively and mindfully.

In my experience, if we pay attention to diet and exercise, our mental state pretty much takes care of itself. Iíll take up the subject of diet in a future post; today Iíd like to share some thoughts on exercise. I am continually amazed at how much a regular fitness regimen contributes to mental and emotional well-being. I can go into my exercise class feeling so-so, but come out at the end of the hour ready to take on the world! The ďhighĒ lasts for hours. Weight-bearing exercise is also important for building and keeping strong bones, helping us avoid osteoporosis. 

From what I have read about societies around the world in which people live long and healthy lives, energetic and even strenuous exercise is common to all of them. The Abkhasian people of central Asia, for example, live in a mountainous area. Even in their 90ís and beyond, they continue to go up and down steep mountain paths in order to tend their herds and visit friends in neighboring villages. And they donít stroll slowly, eitheróWestern researchers in their 40ís couldnít keep up with the elderly Abkhasians! Whenever I feel resistant to exercising, I think of such societies of active elders, and push myself a little more.
For all around regular exercise, Iíve been attending Jazzercise classes three times per week for the last ten years. Classes include aerobics, weights, floor work, and body sculpting. Jazzercise allows you to have fun jiving with a group who become your friends, while listening to some of the best music recorded from the 1940ís right up to the hottest hits of the moment. Itís based on modern dance, yoga, Pilates, and other movement modalities. I can much more easily stay motivated if Iím in a class with others, rather than try to discipline myself to exercise alone in my living room with a DVD. Jazzercise instructors are well-trained, upbeat, and monitored regularly to ensure the high quality of their classes. They present low-impact, easier versions of the moves so that beginners, older people, and those with physical limitations can participate too. Routines change every few weeks, so students donít get bored. The cost for unlimited classes per month is low compared to similar health club facilities. Itís not just for women either; my husband has been going with me for about five years now and says he feels a lot better. 
There are Jazzercise centers all over the country; find one near you at jazzercise.com, and get going! If you donít live near a Jazzercise center, or youíre not drawn to that type of class, find something that works for you, and stick with it. Make it a habit, a non-negotiable part of your weekly schedule, so youíll be less likely to skip it except in a true emergency. Thatís how youíll reap the most encouraging results.