A life without exercise is, simply, a life without
vigor. Exercise doesn't mean hours at the gym,
sweating and working until every muscle in your body is
sore, but it does mean sometimes making a decision to let
other things go for an hour or two so that you can take
care of one of the most important elements of your life on
this planet: your body.
I don't need to go into the effects of neglecting our
bodies--those are well documented and strongly
publicized. What does astonish me, though, is the
fact that so many people know that they're sabotaging
their health by not exercising, yet make no decisions that
will help them to change that pattern. It's
especially perplexing when it's so well known, as
Jefferson stated so long ago, that walking is an
absolutely wonderful way to keep our bodies functioning
well and to maintain our health at high levels.
Walking is extremely low impact, yet it helps the heart
and muscles to strengthen and to tone, especially for
people who haven't done any exercise for a while. It
also can help us with our awareness--while we walk we see
and hear and feel things that we simply aren't aware of
while we're locked up in our homes and offices. We
experience the spring breeze and the warmth of the
sunshine, we feel the wetness of the rain or the snow on
our skin, we hear the songs of birds and the sounds of
life (what Neil Diamond called "Beautiful
Noise"), and we feel our bodies in motion, which
really is a beautiful feeling.
Our world of today--especially in the U.S.--is not
amenable to walkers. Some towns don't even have
sidewalks here. We're addicted to our vehicles, and
we're so used to driving that we often don't even consider
taking that two-mile walk to the store for some
milk. But I can tell you honestly that my wife and I
make that walk regularly, and those are some of the best
hours that we spend together as we talk about our lives
and the things that we see as we walk.
Done well, walks can help us to get to know our cities,
towns, and neighborhoods; they can help us to see the same
trees and bushes in winter, spring, summer and fall; they
can help us to strengthen our hearts and lungs and lower
our weight; and most importantly for me, they can help us
to clear our minds and work our ways mentally through some
of the stress and problems that we're experiencing.
The ability to walk is a tremendous gift to us; it's a
shame that most of us squander that gift when we use it
only to get us to work or from the house to the car and
the parking lot to the store.