Thursday, February 19, 2009

On the Benefits of Exercise

Father and I met for spiritual direction and confession on Monday night, and one of the topics that came up was exercise. Where was I with my commitment to regular exercise? I told him about my attitude adjustment last month, and how ever since, I've gotten on the treadmill at least 5 days a week for about 30 minutes. He asked how I felt about it, and I was happy to be able to tell him that I was fine. I really was. I didn't love it (I don't know that I'll ever love exercising), but I didn't mind it, and I never got on the treadmill grudgingly. He encouraged me to keep at it, and warned me that, in time, I may see a spiritual need to exercise daily, not just a physical need.

I had a rough morning yesterday. I didn't sleep well. DH had an early class, which meant I couldn't go to morning mass. I thought about taking the kids to 8:15 mass, but I had a Bible study meeting at the parish center at 10:30, and if we went to 8:15 mass, there would be no time to get school work done. On top of that, I had gone to sleep angry about a friend's unjust situation. I woke up angry. I tried to find productive ways to channel that anger, but my frustration continued to mount. I knew I needed to get on the treadmill, but I never found time to do so.

We got home from the meeting, ate lunch, and I was in a foul mood. I sent a harshly worded email. Then I looked over at the half-dozen laundry baskets, neatly folded by DH on Tuesday evening, and decided to channel my anger into productivity by getting it all put away. Halfway through sorting the laundry, I remembered I still hadn't gotten my treadmill time. I finished the laundry, made up BigBro's latin quiz, and hopped onto the treadmill. I set the speed a little faster than I usually do, and started walking. Before I knew it, more than thirty minutes had gone by. I got off, graded BigBro's quiz, and noticed that I felt calm for the first time since talking to my friend 48 hours earlier.

That calm stayed with me the rest of the day. I was amazed at how productive I was, at how much I was able to accomplish, at how much better my afternoon went than my morning... all these unexpected benefits of the discipline of regular exercise.

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