Have you ever wondered why the individuals who were responsible for recording the events that took place while Jesus was among us thought it was important to document the fact that He walked a lot? According to the New Testament, He routinely went on long walks, so He could pray and reflect.
Think about this: Could another reason for our Lord’s long walks be so He could get some exercise?
I thought about Jesus and His walking, when I read an article in Reader’s Digest by Dr. Mehmet Oz. You know who Dr. Oz is don’t you? He’s that young, good looking doctor who has become famous by regularly appearing as a “health expert” on the Oprah show.
Dr. Oz seems to be everywhere. His picture and advice are all over the place – in magazines, on web sites, and on television. He is now known as “America’s Doctor” and as a result of his popularity on Oprah, he recently started his own daytime television show, The Dr. Oz Show.
Ah, the power of the image box (television). It can make a person into a superstar celebrity or it can make him look like the worst villain that ever walked the face of the earth. It all depends on how the image makers and the monkeys in the media decide to portray him.
Anyway, in the Readers Digest article, Dr. Oz was asked this question: “What are the two most important things people should do to keep themselves young?” Here was his answer:
“Walk. When you can’t walk a quarter mile in five minutes, your chance of dying within three years goes up dramatically. Second most important is building a community – avoiding isolation. Because if your heart doesn’t have a reason to keep beating, it won’t.”
Wow! Maybe Jesus really did know what he was doing after all. He not only walked, but He built a community that has remained intact for over 2000 years. A community that will continue to survive and flourish until the end of time.
The same week I read the Dr. Oz article, I listened to the Sean Stephenson interview. He’s the “3-Foot Giant” I told you about last week. As I explained to you in my previous article, Sean was born with a rare condition that not only caused his bones to be extremely fragile, but also stunted the growth of his body. Because of his condition, he only grew to be three feet tall. He has never been able to walk because his bones were never strong enough to physically support standing or walking.
Sean is a board-certified psychotherapist with a wide range of experience in helping people turn their lives around. He explained in the interview that if you were to come into his office for help, one of the first things he would tell you is that before you can make any progress, you must first seize control of your physical state, not only through diet, exercise, sleep, etc., but through complete mastery of your body.
He explained that he would tell you that your mind is not only in your head. It’s wherever there’s tissue, blood, bone, and the fluid that runs through you. He talked about how when people lose limbs, they feel a part of themselves are gone, and when people get organ transplants, they take on, oftentimes, the personality of the organ donor.
He went on to explain that the mind is throughout the whole body and if someone were to do something to you physically, you would immediately have a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual reaction to it. On the other hand, if someone were to do something to you psychologically, you would immediately have a physical reaction to it. The body and the mind cannot be separated.
He also said that when you master your body, you show it in the way you walk and in the way you interact with others. Your social life gets better, your business life starts to come together, and your psychology magically improves. He emphasized that most people think their minds and bodies are two separate things. They’re not. They coexist together. They are one.
In his book, Delivered From Distraction, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a specialist in treating children and adults who suffer form attention deficit disorder (ADD), said the following about exercise, the body, and the mind:
“The benefits exercise confers to the mind and brain … are extensively documented in the scientific literature. When a person exercises, she sets in motion a cascade of events that her brain loves. She sends more blood to her brain. With more blood comes more oxygen. Exercise also stimulates the release of a plethora of nutrients, hormones, chemical precursors of neurotransmitters, growth factors, and cleansing agents that bathe the brain in precisely what it needs to function at its best. Exercise also stimulates the production of brain-deprived neurotropic factor, which is important in stimulating the growth of new neurons. We think of exercise, therefore, as not only giving our hearts a good workout but also giving the brain an equally useful dose of nourishment as well as a cleansing bath.”
As for some of the other benefits of exercise, Dr. Hallowell stated that regular exercise “also acts as an antidepressant and as an antianxiety agent.” He said that exercise is especially important for those who have ADD because it promotes: (1) mental focus, (2) sustained attention, (3) mental endurance, (4) the ability to stay alert and remain on task, and (5) the reduction of mental fatigue.
My wife and children have been wondering what’s gotten into me the past couple of weeks, because I started exercising every day (after learning what I just explained to you about the relationship between the body and the mind). Although they haven’t said it, I know what they’re thinking: “There goes Harry (dad) again on another one of his wild-eyed obsessions. We’ll see how long this one lasts!”
I’m hoping and praying my new “obsession” lasts for the rest of my life.
Now that I have the knowledge that my mind and the body are inseparable, it makes sense that if I’m going to live my life the way God intended, I must exercise every day. In fact, in my opinion, it would be a sin for me not to exercise on a regular basis – a sin of omission.
I can imagine one of my future confessions: “Bless me father for I have sinned, I only exercised twice since my last confession.” “My son, you know better. For your penance, I want you to walk 15 minutes every day. The first quarter mile should be at a brisk enough pace to get it done in less than five minutes. You know what America’s Doctor has said about walking, don’t you? Oh, and while you’re walking, make sure to pray your Rosary. That way you’ll be meeting the needs of your body, mind, and soul. As you know, they’re interconnected. They coexist together. They are one.”
Now that’s one “penance” we should all impose upon ourselves.