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EXERCISE

Why Do An Express Workout?

By Tanesha Gant

CBN.com It’s 5 a.m. Your day is about to begin. You reach for the alarm clock and press "off". Now you are "on" - on your way to beginning another exhausting day. First, you jump into the shower, you know that you can spare at least five or six minutes in there. Then your soothing suds-fest is halted when you remember that you forgot to put the clothes (that you planned on wearing that day) in the dryer. You continue to prepare for the "Big Exit" out into the world of work, school, and after school hours of shuttling your kids from the daycare - to gymnastics - to soccer and then finally to the grocery store. After you have packed all the lunches, brushed all the hair, inspected all the clothes, and checked all the backpacks, you rush out the door.

But before you close it, two little faces stare at you with puzzled looks, "Don’t we have time for breakfast? I’m really hungry." You’re already eight minutes late, and another ten is about to be added. There isn’t much relief through the rest of your so-called 9 to 5 day. By the time your entire family is home and fed, it’s nearly 7 o’clock. There’s no way that you will have time or energy for that new twenty-minute workout that you were adamant about trying. Right?

"Only one in five adults engage in a high level of overall physical activity, including both activity at work and during leisure time. At the other end of the spectrum, about one in four engage in little or no regular physical activity" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003). It’s no secret that a lack of exercise and immobility often lead to an array of physical ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. As lifestyles continue to change, most Americans have schedules that leave little or no time for exercise. You can find time to lead a life that is full of spiritual, physical, and mental health. By taking small steps daily, eventually you can find the time to change your life. Consider the following suggestions and you will have time for at least 30 to 45 minutes of activity per day and up to three to five hours total per week.

Through prayer and planning, I have incorporated more activity into my schedule. I feel healthier, stronger, and wiser and now wear clothing two sizes smaller than I did last year. Pants that were once snug, now literally fall off of me. I can not even begin to remember all of methods that I have tried to loose weight - cut sugar, eliminate carbs, no meat, liquid meals only, exercise until I can barely stand - none of it worked. As I reflect now, I realize that I was limiting myself and living by extremes. I focused only on losing weight, not general health and wellness. After meditation, prayer, and more reflection, I discovered that I must move more and find time for activities that I enjoy.

Once you decide that you must find the time for activity, you can begin a plan. First, become conscious of your routine. Keep a prayer/ exercise journal in which you ask for guidance and reflect on your choices. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (I John 5:14 K.J.V). Keep motivational prayers, quotes, and pictures in your journal. Set a time to record your feelings and progress toward activity. At the end of the week, look back through your journal for inspiration; you may even discover a correlation between your emotional state, exercise, and food choices. This process is what I call the "Foundation Stage." Try the following tips first to prepare your mind and body for activity:

1. Start a collection of your favorite recreational equipment, such as jump ropes, free weights, basketballs, footballs or tennis rackets.

2. Store some recreational items (don’t forget walking/running shoes) in your vehicle or backpack, so when there’s an opportunity to play, you will be ready. If you are with children at a park or an open area, play with them. Taking a ride on a swing, racing a friend, or even doing a cartwheel can make you feel like a kid again.

3. Keep radios and music in various areas around your home, especially in the places where you are the most. Turn up the volume as you prepare meals, automatically you will begin to move as you cook, clean and do household activities!

4. Find all of those exercise tapes that you promised yourself you would use. Organize them and store them in a central location. Set a limit on your television and computer time. Then two hours after dinner, pop one in and work out for at least eight to ten minutes or however long you can go.

5. Invest in a pedometer to keep up with your daily steps. Keep track in your prayer/exercise journal. Try to beat your previous record daily. Make note of all of your extra activity at work, school, or where ever you are through out the day. Transfer all the information in your journal on a regular basis.

After you have laid your foundation, you can begin to modify your daily routine to add additional minutes of activity. No matter how busy you are, you can use the following tips; they all require ten minutes or less.

"The Structure Stage"

1. Instead of circling the parking lot for several minutes, park away from your destination to add to your daily steps.

2. If you work in a building, walk around it several times during your lunch break. If possible, walk outside your work area so that you can breathe the fresh air and observe nature.

3. Jump rope or use free weights during short breaks.

4. Say a prayer every morning, stretch, and do a set of sit-ups, push-ups, leg curls or any other floor exercise before you begin your day.

5. During one television program, commit to exercising at least through the commercials. Focus on cardiovascular exercise or toning. This could include jumping jacks, leg lifts, jogging in place, or using free weights.

6. Get input from others on how to create structure to your exercise. These are the things that will make exercise easier and automatic the more you do them. Let fitness be a way of life as compared to a quick interruption in your busy life schedule.

After two weeks of these efforts, or whenever you feel confident and ready, you may begin the "Interior Design" stage, in which exercise and activity become an integral part of you and your family member’s daily routine. The choice that you have made begins to nourish your spiritual and mental state (your interior). Follow some of these suggestions to vary your activity and develop healthy relationships in your family and your community.

1. The Sunday Stroll. When I lived in the South, I noticed how easily families incorporated this activity into their day. After dinner, take your family on a walk around the neighborhood or park. You may even want to wave at your neighbors. You are modeling family health and togetherness. Imagine the effect that this tradition could have on your family and those observing.

2. Another day of the week could be designated family play day. If you are in college, try to coordinate a team activity for at least one afternoon. If you live an apartment, ask the management to help you invite residents to participate. Create memories. Play tennis, basketball, football, baseball, or another sport together one afternoon.

3. For an inside activity, have a Friday night dance for your family. You may want to include some of your extended family or your neighbors. Have a dance contest, or play musical chairs to your favorite song. Then take the activity outside of the house. Sign up to play laser tag, mall walk, or help the community together through a construction project or a clean-up day.

4. Sign up for a community class, such as golf, aerobics, weight lifting or kickboxing. My community center has six-week courses for as little as forty bucks!

5. Join a gym near your work or home. Commit to at least thirty minutes of exercise at least three times a week. Ask a friend or family member to join you. Plan to make it an enjoyable part of your week that you anticipate. Consider it a time to care for yourself. Use it as an alternate style of church.

As I continue to incorporate activity in my day; I feel more peace and contentment because I know that I am putting myself and my health first. If I am too busy to exercise, then I am too busy. I thank God for allowing me to finally see that I need to take responsibility for my health and my life choices. As individuals, we all have different metabolisms, schedules and lives. Instead of doing a rushed express workout, create a routine that complements your lifestyle, gives you time to enjoy life and brings you a healthy balance of peace and meaningful activity.


Tanesha Gant is an English educator in Garland, Texas. She received a Bachelor’s degree in education from Louisiana Tech University and a Master’s degree in education at Texas A & M University. You may contact her at russellgant@msn.com.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2005 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is on-line at faithandfitness.net. It is published six times per year as a resource for building physical and spiritual strength. They provide live support and program development for individuals, churches, and communities.

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