Exercises

 

PREAMBLE- GOAL; DEFINITIONS

The Will is the principal power of the human person. Through this vital power, choices are made; these choices go a long way to influence one’s mental health in various ways. A popular adage says “when there is a will, there is a way”. That shows that the Will is very important to the overall functioning of the human person in all the perspectives of human life. In this article, we are going to discuss the role the will has to play in the area of exercises.  Through the Intellect, we can gather a lot of information about the benefits of exercising. There are lots of evidences and testimonies regarding the tremendous benefits derived from exercising; strong convictions can be formed and be held on to steadfastly; However it takes the Will to effectively take the necessary  corresponding action, based on those convictions. Every thought, word or action are carried through the power of the Will and these can influence in one way or the other, the mental health. In this article, we are going to see how  willing  and exercising can be of great influence in promoting mental health.

DEFINITIONS

For the purpose of this write-up,  the  Will as a noun can be defined as a Desire, Wish such as A.Disposition, Inclination; B. Appetite, Passion; C. Choice, Determination . It can mean the power of control over one’s actions or emotions , or a Disposition to act according to Principles or Ends.

“Willing”, which is an adjective, can mean-A.Compliant( Favourably Disposed or willing to comply), Inclined(Having a preference, disposition or tendency); Ready( Completely prepared or in condition for immediate action or use or progress); B. Cheerfully or eagerly compliant; C. Done, Given, Accepted etc, Freely or Voluntarily.

In other words, being willing is to be ready or eager to do something and not opposed to doing something. A willing person does his or her work Energetically  and Enthusiastically. Willingness requires Consenting, being Glad or Happy to be of service, Voluntariness-a power of the will  or of motivation to get us to act as willed-of your own free will or design and not forced or compelled. It also needs to be Volitional-with Deliberate Intention.

EXERCISES

An Exercise can be described as “ something performed or practiced in order to develop, improve or display a specific capacity or skill” A life time is thus a splendid opportunity to engage in exercises to  acquire a heroic and an ever-increasing Physical, Mental and Spiritual  health.

The faculty of the Will therefore has a very important role to play in exercising to continuously improving the overall well being in the physical, mental and spiritual dimension respectively of the human person.

PHYSICAL EXERCISES

Regular physical exercises are greatly beneficial; Aerobic exercises, which  tend to be rhythmic, gentle and of longer duration, they improve cardiovascular functioning, decrease the risks of heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase  HDL or “good” cholesterol, help to better control blood sugar, improve lung function, decrease resting heart rate and assists in weight management and/or weight loss. Anaerobic exercises, which tend to involve short bursts of High Intensity Activity are also very beneficial for good health, because they strengthen bones, burn fat, reduce risk of disease, fight depression, increase stamina for daily activities, build muscle and maintain  muscle mass, which is important for people as they age. Examples of aerobic exercises are walking, dancing, step-climbing, running or jogging, swimming, outdoor cycling; examples of anaerobic exercises are  sprinting  ,push-ups, squats, High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT), jumping rope bench presses  and  pull-ups.

MENTAL EXERCISES

Despite the tremendous benefits from exercising the body, it is important to exercise the Brain as well. The Brain is a muscle and needs activity to stay healthy and to preserve cognitive function and memory. Some decline in cognition is normal with age, but there are things you can do to slow down mental decline. The following activities can help to keep the brain sharp:

  1. Dancing and learning new dance steps
  2. Physical exercises increase blood flow to the brain, particularly, that part of the brain responsible for thinking; Physical exercise makes your brain more efficient and adaptive.
  3. Answer questions: Put yourself in situations where you are required to think on your feet- this spurs the formation of new neural connections.
  4. Try something new; learn new skills: If you have mastered a skill, your brain can perform that skill out of habit and is not forced to form those important neural connections- so try new things that require your brain to learn and grow.
  5. Notice the details: Take time to observe the sights and sounds around you and tell others about them. Listen carefully when engaged in talks with people and learn to paint a mental image of what you are told; doing so will help prompt the growth of new cells in the visual, verbal and memory part of the brain.
  6. Reduce stress: Spend time each day de-stressing because stress affects the memory negatively.
  7. Learn and Re-learn: Never stop learning; Consider that life is a continuous learning process. Education and learning helps to prevent early dementia; always get engaged with Books, Seminars, Cooking classes etc.
  8. Listen to Music: This lowers stress levels and the stress hormones that inhibit memory; music also increases positive feelings and improves focus.
  9. Re-decorate: painting a wall, hanging new pictures and effecting small changes in your environment can encourage new cell growth in the brain.
  10. Debate: A healthy debate e.g. regarding sports, politics, business etc forces you to think on your feet and helps to form new neural pathways for the brain.
  11. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, avoiding smoking , moderate intake of alcohol and keeping health issues( such as diabetes and cholesterol) in check are also important for keeping the mind healthy and sharp.

 

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

Since the human person is composed of the physical body and a spiritual soul, it is important that  the spiritual be well taken care of through  exercising with the goal of remaining spiritually fit always.

Spiritual fitness has to do with beliefs and practices that strengthens your connectedness with sources of hope, meaning and purpose. Spiritual fitness relates to our ability to develop core beliefs, highest principles and ultimate values.

Spiritual fitness has it’s foundation on the fact that we have God Almighty as our Father and Creator, Who is Infinitely Merciful and Lovable; Who has given us all the means we need to live holy, fulfilled and happy lives and Who has prepared for us an abode of everlasting bliss after our sorjourn in this life. Spiritual exercises  help to bring about spiritual fitness; it is all about making the best use of our faculties to know, love and serve God and  living out all the  consequences of the relationship with God, which can be summarized as follows:

  1. Be grateful: Be grateful for each day and each moment of the day and strive to love and serve better with each passing moment.
  2. Love and serve others-Share your gifts and talents with others.
  3. Strive to overcome challenges.
  4. Forgive yourself and forgive others.
  5. Strive to grow in virtues or values and live them,
  6. Keep nurturing your relationship with God through Prayer, Spiritual reading and other spiritual exercises.
  7. Do a daily examination of conscience; recognize and accept sins committed. Be truly sorry for them and strive to make amends and be truly contrite; then begin again to live a life of joy and service-working intensely and giving glory to God.

THE ROLE OF THE WILL-OBSTACLES

Every thought, word or action requires the use of the Will. The Will is always  operative –positively or negatively. There is no virtue or vice that does not involve the use of the power of the Will.

A number of obstacles can stand in the way of the Will in carrying out the exercises needed to acquire wellness stemming from physical, mental and spiritual fitness. A major obstacle can be sloth or laziness, lack of order and other manifestations of the weaknesses of human nature.

WAY FORWARD/CONCLUSION

The Will must always be put into positive use at all times in order to  obtain the goal of physical , mental and spiritual fitness—all of which contribute in no small measure to overall wellness. You must constantly say  “No” to the weaknesses of human nature, which may stand in the way of aspiring to this greatly desired goal of  overall fitness and consciously Will and do the good and that which is beneficial at all times.

The knowledge concerning the tremendous benefits from the exercises discussed at length should spur you to set your Will to attaining definite and concrete goals. You can start  with modest goals and little by little, set higher goals. Do everything to please your Father God- this way you will be humble and this will enable you make greater progress in your endeavours. Discouragement, procrastination, lame justifications etc are all manifestations of pride- the greatest weakness of human nature; with your Will always fixed on the positive, you will easily and constantly surmount all obstacles.

Make it a habit to pray about your daily exercising goals; this will lead to achieving the goal of physical, mental and spiritual wellness and the effort would have been worthwhile.

Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos, Nigeria based Pharmacist.

 

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