Thursday, May 10, 2012

‘Let’s Get Physical!’

Commitment to consistent exercise is hard work, but the compensation in terms
of physical well-being makes it worthwhile.

One advantage of advancing years is perspective. When you’re young, you feel invincible, convinced you’ll live forever. You’re care-free, fearing nothing. (Maybe that’s why so many young people text while driving.)

As you get older, however, life’s hard knocks start adding up. You discover the saying, “Stuff happens!” is true. As with everyone else, you realize immortality isn’t your destiny.

Some days you wake up feeling great; life couldn’t be better. The next day, your shoulder’s sore, your neck has a crick, your knee aches, your back’s stiff. Welcome back to reality.

If we’re wise, we take steps – literally – to remain healthy and fit for as long as possible. We don’t want to be like the senior citizen who, in very advanced years, moaned, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!”

Combining cardio activities with moderate
weight training can lead to well-rounded
physical fitness regardless of age.
I just finished my medical circuit – annual physical, visits with cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon. Thankfully the test results were good, but I know I’m bidding time. The day will come, like it or not, when the wear and tear from years past become evident.

But we can still strive to enhance our physical lives by exercising, eating right, taking medications if needed. That’s Dr. Arthur Agatston’s message in The South Beach Heart Program, a book I found helpful after my open-heart surgery in 2006. He doesn’t promise that by following his advice you’ll live forever – but you will stay healthy longer.

There’s an even better reason for addressing our physical well-being: Stewardship. We might think, “It’s my body, and I can do what I want to,” but our bodies are only “on lease.” God gave them to us, and as stewards we’re responsible for taking care of them as best we can.

For instance, the Bible asserts, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (That admonition, by the way, doesn’t authorize us to build a “bigger temple”!)

The Scriptures acknowledge life’s temporal nature: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1). In other words, don’t get too attached to our physical bodies, our “earth suits.” We don’t get to keep them. 

Nevertheless, we’re expected to care for what we’ve been given. God might have created mankind out of clay, according to the biblical account – but it was His clay!

That’s why for the past five years, I’ve taken my own advice: Three days a week of rigorous cardiac rehab classes, and power-walking 2-3 other days each week. Also, eating better than I used to, and taking my meds. And so far the effort and commitment have paid off.

I’ve adopted this simple motto: “I hate to exercise…but I love to have exercised!”

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