Albert Einstein loved to exercise by riding his bike. It’s been said that he claimed he was on his bike when he thought of the ground-breaking theory of relativity. We don’t know whether this is true or not. But one thing that seems to come across from his love of cycling is that he did not think of exercise as something he had to do to get healthy. It’s likely that it was something he simply enjoyed and that, in balance with other aspects of his life, contributed to his work and wellbeing.
Today, exercise is frequently not in balance with the rest of our lives. It’s something we have to squeeze into our already busy days in order to be healthy. For some it is enjoyable, but for many it has become part of an unending routine of servicing our bodies to keep them healthy. And numerous studies warn us of dire health consequences if we do not exercise in a currently recommended manner. However, research differs as to how much exercise and how often we need it.
When told we needed an hour of physical exercise each day, new gyms popped up with the appropriate one-hour programs to keep us healthy. More recently, studies such as one from the Annals of Internal Medicine now inform us that one-hour regimes are not enough – we need to exercise every hour, or even more. The standing desk business is booming and new phone apps remind us to get up frequently and move about.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be like this. Some doctors, frustrated with the demands being placed on us by researchers are taking a more moderate and measured approach. A proponent of exercise, heart specialist Richard Forogos, for example, wrote in an article on abouthealth.com: “To actually be useful, any expert recommendations on a healthy lifestyle must remain within the bounds of the possible. And telling us that it’s an absolute that we must exercise for at least an hour a day is more than just out-of-bounds – it is too outlandish for words.”
All this debate on exercise has caused me to question the origin and purpose of my activities. I love to go for walks, hikes and bike rides. Do I do it to get or stay healthy? Or is there a spiritual foundation, and a purpose to these activities?
I got to thinking about these questions from a Christian perspective, and that led me to one simple statement from St. Paul: “In Him [God] we live and move and have our being.”
To me, Paul is saying that life and health are not something “out there” that we have to go and get. He’s telling us that the origin of all life and movement is in the Divine, and we “move” as an expression of this fact.
Rather than thinking of exercise as something I have to ‘do’ to get health, I love to think of activity as one of many ways to express health.
By focusing on exercise as a tool to maintain physical health, we lose sight, not just of the source of our mobility but also of its purpose – to express Life [God]. When we regain that sense of unity with the Divine, exercise and movement become an integrated, enjoyable and achievable part of our lives.
Einstein’s sheer joy in cycling offered him an approach to exercise that was balanced and enjoyable. Far from interrupting or interfering with his work, it complemented and augmented it.
If we want exercise that fits naturally in our lives and enhances our well-being, we can find it in a joyful expression of the freedom Divine Life gives to us all.
- This article was published in the Vancouver Sun on April 13 2015 HERE