My exercise routine can lose its allure and intended benefits without periodic change. I can quickly descend into a rut, and before I know it, good intentions are sacrificed on the altar of boredom. Even when I make it to the gym, lack of variation can limit results. My neglected muscles grow weaker, while my engaged muscles are no longer challenged. I’ve reached a plateau, and progress is compromised.
In much the same way, monotony can affect my spiritual growth. The longing is there, but weekly church attendance and daily religious practices can become dry rituals. To avoid guilt, I press on with little comfort.
Whether we face a physical or spiritual challenge, overcoming an obstacle is an important factor to maintain wellness. When we become disconnected from a routine, it can spiral down into a mindless ritual. Distractions become like currents in a riptide pulling us from our daily goals. A different approach, however, revives interest and vitality to a routine. Breakfast, for example, may seem like a ritual, but with a varied menu, it’s a welcomed practice. A reservoir of options can help bring restoration a stagnant routine.
Office:Remember to breathe, and hydrate your body. Stress tires us throughout the day. It only takes a few seconds to take a couple of full cleansing breathes. In addition, periodic stretching and refocusing your eyes to a distant object can help reduce stress.
VARIETY PROVIDES BENEFITS
Let’s look at the advantages in implementing diverse physical activity. You don’t have to add more to your schedule; in fact, your daily moderate activity can stimulate better health. Research repeatedly confirms that moderate exercise can reduce and prevent disease. Some tangible examples of moderate activity would include: a brisk walk, bicycling, dancing and even dreaded housework. According to the Surgeon General’s report on Physical Activity and Health, moderate activity has been a combative force against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension, weight control and stress. When we view life’s activity as health activity, we resist paying homage to an unhealthy, sedentary world.
A positive spiritual perspective can also benefit physical health. Thoughts are closely connected with our emotions, so a new healthy outlook can reduce stress. As this Proverb advises, “be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts”.
Gym: Slow down, it’s not necessary to go fast with free weights. A slower, controlled movement, from beginning to end, can add more resistance. You may need to reduce your repetitions to accommodate the added resistance. Ideally, a fitness trainer can help you with form and with an alternative routine.
PLAN YOUR STRATEGY
- Minimum Works
Experts recommend walking up to 10,000 steps or approximately five miles per day. Now before you roll your eyes, consider how much you walk at home, at work or when you shop. You may be well on your way toward the recommended goal. If you enjoy regular walks, stay motivated with a walking companion. (My Labrador, Charly, is an unrelenting partner.)
- Gadgets Help
Heart Rate Monitor: A waterproof heart rate monitor provides your resting, moderate and target heart rate. You will be able to apply the appropriate intensity to reach your target heart rate while you enjoy alternative outdoor activities. (See Target & Estimated Maximum Heat Rate information.)
Body Fat Monitor: This calculates body fat or Body Mass Index (BMI). Often individuals lose weight or maintain ideal weight at the expense of muscle mass and ignore body fat. This monitor can help you reach you target BMI. (See Centers for Disease Control & Prevention web-link for Body Mass Index information.)
Pedometer: A pedometer measures steps or miles. Some pedometers are equipped with a clock, timer and calorie counter. Wear it throughout the day; it’s amazing the choices you’ll make when you’re trying to rack-up miles.
Outdoors: Periodically use your less predominant hand. When you shovel snow or rake leaves, for example, alternate hands every four strokes, and you’ll save your predominate side from needless pain. When you walk faster, you primarily use more gluteus muscles. Alternate the tempo of your walk and increase your steps, but also pay attention to your breathing. People sometimes concentrate more on their walking instead of their breathing, and can get light-headed.
- Path of Most Resistance
Opportunities that offer daily physical resistance can encourage fitness. Walking is better than riding, posture is better than slouching, form is better than speed and activity is better than idleness. Look for ways to implement daily physical activity to support better health.
- Spiritual Strategies
Yes, there are strategies to spiritual growth. Try reading motivational or instructional books instead of the newspaper. Practice journaling to express thoughts and feelings. Find an accountability partner or mentor who can help you during a difficult time.
Home: By the time you finish your household chores you’re exhausted. That is often because you’ve overused specific muscles. Find ways to make the work fun like involving a child. When you’re active at home, wear good support shoes and not your slippers or flip-flops (although there is a growing interest in wearing no shoes as some believe the arch support of shoes can weaken your foot). Watch your posture. Employ a combination of squatting and bending and keep your abdomen muscles tight for added benefit.
MIX UP SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY
So how do you increase your passion for God? What would motivate an extra step toward His love? Any alternative approach that quiets our soul can help us acknowledge God’s presence: a subtle prayer, a grateful heart, a song of joy, a contemplative thought or an outdoor stroll.
Daily interaction with God doesn’t always sound spiritual, in fact, it often sounds very human. His constant presence waits for our attention, and scripture asserts this promise: He strengthens those who are weak and tired. God’s silent influence may be different each time, but He will refresh our soul. As the old saying goes, God works in mysterious ways, perhaps even God likes to mix it up.
Marisa is an internationally published freelance writer. She enjoys providing practical applications to challenging questions through writing and public speaking. Marisa is a full-time skin care consultant in Northern California. Her occupational website is healthchoices.myarbonne.com