Many people treat physical fitness as a hobby, but it is much more than just a recreational pursuit.
Each of us inhabits a physical body comprised of organized systems. These systems follow a synchronized plan of action, often without our cognitive awareness. Our lack of awareness of these systems perhaps explains why we often ignore the impact poor fitness has on our physical and emotional health. The moment we bring fitness back into our lives, we immediately feel its healing and regulating effects.
Every Sunday afternoon at Brookhaven Retreat, women may participate in a stretching and walking class that teaches the core basics of breathing, posture and walking while following a 12-week cycle of themes. Some women begin the walking program doubtful of its effects, but I have observed time and time again the great impact the class has acclimating and motivating women to the rest of Brookhaven Retreat’s programs.
There are several important things taking place in this class. Women relearn to walk, adopting posture and breathing techniques that facilitate function of the body’s various systems, and the 12-week cycle follows themes that build bonds of trust between the women who participate.
The chemical and physical reactions that take place during exercise add a powerful reconditioning effect toward confidence and accomplishment. It is well documented that endorphins released through prolonged physical activity reduce stress, ward off anxiety and depression, and clear glucose from the blood stream. Prolonged exercise also stimulates and synchronizes the core visceral organs.
During last week’s class, the ladies completed three laps in total, with one walked in silence while women named what they saw, heard or felt without using qualitative adjectives like “pretty” or “bad.” Mindfulness is often cultivated during exercise: mindfulness to the physical body, mind and emotions, and walking is a healthful way to reap physical and emotional benefits.
When is the last time you walked, and were simply present with your thoughts and breath and environment? Perhaps it is time to try anew. You may be startled by just how wonderful it makes you feel!