Exercise is good for you. Really. Honest. Regular, daily, consistent exercise. You were built for it. Really. Honest. We are a miracle of engineering, with lungs that breathe deep, transferring oxygen to fuel working muscles, a heart that pounds aloud its desire to be strong. We are constructed with a frame that twists and bends, pushes and pulls, and two legs that were made for motion. It is our birthright, our ancestry, our primitive drive, our primary gift. It we were not meant to do it, not doing it would not lead to such a state of ill-health and "dis-ease".
We all know that in order to be healthy we need to exercise. We also know that it is hard. Really. Honest. It really doesn't matter if you exercise for the first time in decades or if you are an elite athlete. Workouts are work. We have to ask from our bodies just a little more that they would like to give us each day to get the gifts, and we can do that in a multitude of ways. Finding the way to move that speaks to you and inspires you is the great secret in making regular, daily exercise last.
I grew up a swimmer. With four little ones at home, and a gap of 25 miles between the closest pool and I, I ran a mile one day, 22 years ago, to my mailbox and back. I thought I was going to die. The idea of swimming that 25 mile gap seemed easier that day than did that 1 mile run. I didn't die. Rather, I fell in love. Really. Honest. Deeply, madly in love.
Not right away, however. It took time, as I made daily decisions that taking my health seriously was an important part of being a good mother and a better human. The beautiful, unintended consequence of those decisions was the expression of my Self, expressed by this basic, simple, primitive activity. It not only changed the way I looked and felt, it changed how I saw myself and the world.
I can tell you to exercise for your health. I would rather tell you to exercise because it changes your very calculus. It changes your perception of what you can accomplish, what you can endure, what you can sacrifice. It is the sacrifice that matters. The sacrifice, and whatever that looks like for you, is everything. We value most that which costs us the most.
Your body is waiting, every day, to be put to use. When you use it, it rewards you, not only physically, but psychically, emotionally, and spiritually. You become closer to who you were meant to be. This is why we run...or walk, cycle, swim, exercise. Really. Honest.
We exercise to be tested. Each and every person, at their most basic level, seeks, craves really, to be tested. To be tested means that you exist, you have a reason and a purpose, that life actually expects something out of you. Exercise is a purposeful activity because we are tested, not to beat someone, but to win over our own fear, our own doubt, and our own weakness. Just as it strengthens the heart, it strengthens the resolve. Life requires strong resolve.
We run, walk, swim, cycle to be joined together. We work together in a shared struggle. In all of history, humankind has been linked together in shared struggle. When I don't think I have one more ounce of energy, you pull me along. We become better, do more, go further, faster or go out more often because someone is there to hold us up and help us to keep moving forward. I get healthier … happier, and so do you.
I become more engaged at work, at home, in my community because I am closer to who I was meant to be and so do you. The world changes. You can be more than you ever thought you could because there is a warrior right by your side. Shared struggle, shared joy. You get better, I get better, and so it goes, on and on. You stumble and someone understands because they have stumbled too, and then you lift up another who is struggling to keep up. When you think you can't, someone holds up this amazing mirror, and you see that you can. Can there possibly be any better metaphor for life than that, or a better gift? There is a bond built on effort, work, pain and struggle that joins people together in a way that is true.
We exercise because we are the most alive when we do. We exercise because it gives us community. Really. Honest.