Train Your Body, Reap With Your Brain
The Way Of The Enlightened Monk
Day after day we face a physical world that pulls and tugs us in different directions. Rarely do we encounter a person who has devoted years to the art of salvation. Discarding the old self in exchange for the Christ-self is art that requires discipline. Generally speaking, a secular existence does not provide the right environment to spiritually cultivate heart, soul, mind, and body.
The peace, reverence, and wisdom that radiates from a recluse who has sought God for decades is developed by an earnestly disciplined life. Looking into the discipline of Christian monks we will always come across a few common traits. Study of the scriptures, devotional prayer, work (physical activity), and a wholesome diet are frequently characteristics of the monastic life. Combine these habits into a worshipful life and you get enlightened monks, or nuns.
Setting aside, biblical study, prayer, and diet, which most if us at the very least attempt to practice regularly, we will focus on physical activity, something that is usually lacking in the lifestyle of most Christians.
Why Exercise Should Be Very Important To You
It's abundantly clear after decades of scientific research that exercise is by far one of the most beneficial activities we can engage in. In a previous article "How Exercise Changes Your Christian Meditation Experience" we explored the link between a brain stimulated by exercise and how it correlates to a better meditation experience. Now we will consider how physical exercise improves your entire body while helping you reach greater heights with God in study and meditation, and which exercise to perform.
A monk usually has many chores to fulfill during the day. After prayerful meditation, most Christian monks will tend to cleaning, building maintenance, construction, agricultural activities, tending to livestock, and landscaping while praying unceasingly. The physical demands of the monastic life are some of the most vigorous and unrelenting. Regardless of age, most monks tend to daily demands until their last breath, which on average is ten years longer than the average person.
One of the mitigating factors to the longest living people on earth is exercise, especially vigorous exercise. A study conducted by Harvard, associated moderate to vigorous physical activity with longevity. In fact, intensity of exercise became the number one predictor of lower mortality.
In her book "50 Secrets Of The Longest Living People", Sally Beare explains that one of the secrets to a long life is physical activity, especially the strenuous type, like farming. Another component she highlights is low stress, meditation, and breathing, which can also be induced through exercise.
Here's How Exercise Improves Your Brain
Even at a late age, people who exercise are bright and have less incidence of decreased cognitive abilities. That means better mental health which ultimately translates to a much better meditation experience.
- Exercise helps grow your brain
The birth of new brain cells slows as we age. Our brain tissue actually shrinks as the years go by. But, exercise may reverse that trend. One brain-scanning technique showed that sedentary people between the ages of 60 and 79 had significant increases of brain tissues matter after just six months of aerobic activity. No such changes was observed in a control group who performed only stretching and toning exercises. The researchers concluded strenuous cardio exercises increases brain blood flow and needed oxygen need to create new brain cells.
- Exercise produces brain building hormones
A chemical released by your brain known as neurotrophic, or BDNF, stimulates the natural growth and proliferation of your brain cells. This is especially true in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that is largely responsible for memory. This area is particularly vulnerable as we age. In short, the more you exercise, the more BDNF your brain produces.
- Exercise increases your capacity to think and focus
Your cognitive skills and your ability to focus on complex tasks, think abstractly, organize, and plan are greatly improved when you exercise. The improvements also encompass working memory, which is useful when you need to remember a phone number if you unable to reach a pen. A meta-analysis of 18 scientifically designed studies found that people between the ages of 55 and 80 exercised regularly performed four times better on cognitive tests than control groups who didn’t work out at all. The greatest benefits were observed in people who exercised 30 to 45 minutes each session for more than six months. Surprisingly, benefits began to peak in as little as four weeks!
Top Tips To Choosing The Right Exercise
Your brain is no different than rest of your body. Your brain needs the right physical stimulation. If you don't stimulate it, you might loose it. You can boost your brain power with a simple pair of sneakers. The benefits of physical exercise on the brain are astounding. Aerobic exercise especially has magnificent positive effects on brain function. A physically stimulated brain will benefit at all levels from the molecular to the behavioral. According to one study conducted by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even brief exercise session of 20 minutes facilitates faster information processing while raising memory functions.
Here's a quick list to help you choose the right exercise: (Before you begin you should consult with a doctor)
- Aerobic exercise is great for your body and your brain. Start looking into the many assortments of aerobic exercises.
- Choose an exercise that you can practice in the morning before your day gets started. The brain produces the most beneficial chemistry during the morning hours. This will also prepare you for the mental stresses of the day, but also produces increased retention rates, and higher ability in the face of complex situations.
- When selecting an exercise look for an activity that incorporates coordination along with cardiovascular exercise. Squash, tennis, and dancing are great choices, but, don't limit yourself. Today's options are daunting. Circuit work outs are a quick way to spike your heart rate, but also redirect your attention working on coordination. Jumping jacks is another great exercise to brush off mental exhaustion while boosting brain power.
Top 8 Exercises That Can Improve Your Christian Meditation Practice
Cardio, is short for cardiovascular workout and is a form of exercise that benefits your entire circulatory system, lungs, and brain. To reap the highest benefits from cardio, you should perform at least three 20-minute sessions per week. make sure you reach a heart rate between 60 to 90 percent of your maximum for your age bracket.
Keep in mind that longer workouts burn more fat and is a great idea for anyone seeking weight control. There are countless types of cardio exercises, from dancing, rebounding, sliding, and jumping jacks to name a few. So your choices virtually limitless. To get you started we put together the top eight most practiced exercises that improve the mind. Please be sure to consult with your doctor before you begin and exercise regimen. If your dead it won't matter what shape your brain is in, so be smart and check with your doctor first.
The tried and true workout of the centuries. Walking has provided health and well-being for millennia, and today is no different. For the less-fit, walking provides a good way to start a fitness regimen. you can use walking as your way in to jogging. Start with brisk walks that increase heart rate and respiration. Additionally, you can use your arms to intensify your walking. You can also add weight to increase the level of difficulty. A backpack can definitely increase the difficulty level of your workout. Walking can also be performed outdoors or indoors on a treadmill.
2. Jogging or Running
As your fitness improves, you may start progress to a faster form of walking and eventually to jogging, and even running. Jogging is slow running and can be performed by virtually anyone. You can practice jogging either outside or indoors on a treadmill. A key tip for jogging is to wear supportive cushioned shoes to minimize injury due to the high-impact activity.
Cycling is one the lowest impact exercises on the list. It can be performed both outside and inside. There are a variety of bikes can used outside on multiple terrains. If you choose to cycle on the road, you should always wear a helmet and follow local traffic rules. Safety is paramount, so choose safety over exercise. Cycling can also be performed indoors on a variety of stationary bike designs. Many gyms also host cycling classes.
Indoor and outdoor rowing competitively or for recreation. Rowing uses both your arms and legs, making it a good whole-body workout. Rowing is a non-impact activity that makes it suitable if you suffer from knee or back problems or are particularly heavy. Because rowing uses your lower back, it is important to get advice on correct rowing technique to ensure maximize rowing benefits while reducing any risk of injury.
5. Jumping Rope
Jumping rope is one of the least expensive and effective workouts. Learning how to jump rope may take a little effort but once you master it, you will have a form of cardio you can perform almost anywhere. Since jumping rope is a high-impact sport so you should always wear cushioned shoes.
6. Cross Trainers
Cross training uses the arms and legs together and are a form of light compound exercises. This is an excellent way of burning calorie, increasing heart rate, and pumping the sweat glands. There is a large variety of manufacturers, styles, and models available but most machines use a non-impact elliptical system which reduces pressure on legs and knees. If that's what you're looking for cross trainers is ideal for you.
If pressure on knees and legs is not an issue for you, then you might be able to step your way to better brain health. A stepping machine replicates the action of climbing a stairs. This movement is moderately low-impact on the lower-body. Steppers can be adjusted in several ways according to your liking. Resistance and speed can be adjusted as you workout or you can pre-program your favorite routine. Another option is to climb many flights of stairs. Which ever you choose the push-down motion will improve your cardio vascular health toning your legs and gluteus.
8. Upper-body Bikes
Upper-body bikes are machines that require you to pedal with your arms. These machines provide a useful alternative to other cardio exercises that rely solely on the legs. This is definitely an alternative if there are leg and knee issues but you still want the cardio boasting benefits. Most upper-body bikes are usually wheelchair accessible.
For decades its been widely known that exercise is a wonderful way to stay healthy and fit, but as time goes on and scientific developments continue to advance we are discovering just how important exercise really is.
Exercise appears to not only keep you fit but it has spiritual implications as well. I personally know that if my diet turns for the worst and forego my exercise routine for several days, my sleep habits are disturbed, my concentration lacks, thinking is not lucid, and creativity is down. Not good, especially when your running the most popular Christian meditation website. But change all that, and immediately, heart, soul, mind, and body feel better. Which opens the door to better Bible study, meditation, concentration, retention, creativity, and to an optimistic mood.
This subject of course reminds me of Genesis 3:19, "By the sweat of your brow you will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return" In other words, God declared that we are to remain actively working, physically and mentally until our last breath. Sounds like the Christian monks got it right.
Unfortunately, many of us simply drive by a window to pick up food. I'm pretty sure that the genetic power God placed within us to be physically, strong, active, and mentally powerful is not being stimulated by picking food while driving after sitting all day. Our only alternative then is to eat healthy and workout.
Because God declared this word to all human beings, we have to assume that God purposefully designed the human body to prosper under heavy physical loads. Otherwise, we'd be so frail that we would collapse at just the thought of strenuous work. It looks like science once again tested and proven God's word and wisdom to be true.
So now go out there and start working out. Check with your doctor and start stimulating God's gift within you!
Hope you enjoyed this article. We love to hear how you stimulate God's gift of mind and body with exercise. Post your comments below. We love you and we're praying for you. God bless you.