The typical fitness and exercise message is Truth Second Hand.
I don’t write about exercise and fitness straight-on. Within my message, it is implied that to be your best requires prowess in all the dimensions of Human Nature—physical, mental, spiritual, and social.
Recent daily investments inspired me to take on the topic directly.
The evidence that exercise will change your life is overwhelming, but it’s not enough to get us moving. The evidence we see is truth second hand. We read about the experience, and it’s like watching TV. Entertaining, maybe uplifting but not transformational.
There is no substitute for experience and personal discovery; for the personal revelation, the knowing firsthand of the miracle of exercise.
In last week’s Parade, James Taylor describes his personal experience with exercise. Taylor’s reliance on drugs was his way of self-medicating. “I was trying to get normal,” he says. “I have been diagnosed and treated for depression my whole life.” At the same time, he has been proudly drug-free for the past 35 years, almost “more than half of my life,” he beams. A crucial part of his recovery has been physical exercise. “It’s the one piece of advice I give to people in recovery: You’ve got to start moving,” he says. “It’s the only way to get your nervous system back.”
Author of the mega best seller Fault in Our Stars John Green said pretty much the same thing on 60 Minutes. He gets on wild thoughts like “someone was bleeding in my salad, and instead of being able to move on to the next thought, that thought just expands and expands and expands and expands. And then, I use compulsive behaviors to try to manage the worry and the overwhelmedness that that thought causes me.”
The only way out of the downward spiral is “I exercise. That’s probably the biggest thing. Exercise is pretty magical in my life.”
Green recognized the truth second hand and the power of discovering for himself.
It’s true. Move your body and change your mood. It’s almost impossible to feel depressed on a run or an exercise walk.
Exercise is miraculous for me too. Here are my tenets of exercise.
- Exercise may not lengthen your life, but it surely will combat that which shortens it
- Exercise spurs growth from your resources and your own experiences
- Your action will teach you all you need to know
- The body is an equal learning machine to the mind and soul
- The difference between exercise and drugs is fantasy.
- Exercise first, set yourself up for the trials of the day
- Personal growth precedes professional growth
- Exercise will add more life to your days
Exercise first hand will show you that the body responds to the mind, and the mind reacts to daily stresses—demands, tension, guilt, and anger.
As you develop your cardiovascular system, you also develop discipline. As you develop strength, you increase perseverance and resiliency. And as you grow to become a fitness guru, your diet improves.
Different exercise and fitness pursuits integrate to strengthen your foundation and renew your energies as you learn, move, and evolve.
In Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen corroborates James Taylor and says, “exercise can save you.”
In this week’s Parade, Harrison Ford said at 77 years old he’s ready for anything because he exercises regularly.
I follow Samuel Beckett’s advice: Life itself can be a terminal illness. We can go either way. Succumb to apathy, uncertainty, and anxiety and allow learned helplessness to seep in or extend ourselves to our limitless potential.