7 Swans a Swimming
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…health? I want to be transparent here, as this is a judgment-free zone. I don’t exercise like I “should,” and I work really hard not to hold words like “should” and “should not” over myself. So I hope to free us from that phrase right now; this isn’t about what any sense of society or airbrushed models tell us we ought to do. So what does that leave?
We all know that staying active will help us stay healthy, but wow — I never thought it would be this difficult after getting into the real world. We spent at least ten years of our lives with an expectation to work out to some extent, from recess to PE to organized teams. Then, graduation arrived with more demands on our time, and fewer structured opportunities for getting active away from work. This conflict only increases when the temperature drops and nighttime comes earlier, like this time of the year. Yet I know, as I type this from under my comfy throw blanket, that winter isn’t an excuse to give up on my physical health, despite how tasty all the Christmas snacks are and how miserable the outside weather seems. I owe future Hannah much more than what I give her in my daily exercise department.
This year, I got a dreaded prescription from a doctor. After a year of feeling sick to my stomach most nights, a couple months of misery finally drove me to ask a doctor what was up. She asked me about my discomfort, then advised, “30 minutes of cardio every day for a month.” I left the office embarrassed, frustrated, and still in pain. But after a few months of playing on a soccer team, I did find that I felt less sick overall, and I realized that keeping active might not be completely unrelated to my inner well-being.
Staying active doesn’t just show benefits for one’s physical health, it improves your mental and spiritual health as well. The time you take walking, playing sports, lifting weights, doing yoga, or anything else away from your desk and tv, stretches your heart in more ways than one. When you make time away from your distractions, you give your brain a well-earned break, and I’m sure you can agree — most of our brains could use a break after a full day of work. This time also becomes a great chance to reconnect with God, providing us a chance to focus on His power and His strength. This is especially true if you (like me) are praying for His help to get through 20 more minutes, and praising His name when you get through the entire half-hour. A great verse to remember in both situations is Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”