Reading for Treasure

Shall We Dance?

Posted at Sep 7, 2016 8:00 am

danceExercise—like that four-letter word DIET—is the uncomfortable “must-do” that many of us try to fit in to our day.

It’s not fair that in the real world we have to worry about this while, in books, the heroines don’t spend hours sweating at the gym. They don’t exercise—why do we have to?

Wait a minute. They many not slog it out in the gym, but they go hiking. And bicycling. They dance. Sometimes they even run to calm their minds. But they don’t dread their workouts like some kind of odious chore.

The difference between the real-work need to exercise and the heroine’s effortlessly active lifestyle is—you guessed it—attitude.

Maybe instead of running on the treadmill, we should dance around our houses—shaking our booty to upbeat tunes as we clean. Maybe two formerly dreaded chores—exercise and cleaning—just might turn into a less than dreadful afternoon.

Or we could spend time in the garden. How about walking with a friend before or after that coffee date? Or challenging your sweetie to a round of mini-golf instead of plopping in front of the TV? Come to think about it there are endless ways we could work fun activities into our normally sedentary days. We may not be “exercising” but our bodies don’t know the difference. The fun physical activities work the heart, lungs and muscles just as effectively as their less fun cousins—the treadmill and stair stepper.

Martial artists call their exercises “moving meditation,” a state where the mind relaxes and the body goes on autopilot. It is the mark of an experienced practioner to lose him or herself in the act of running through a pre-defined series of moves.

Another popular adage suggests we “dance as if no one is watching.” Move your body for fun and let your mind have some free, unstructured time, too.

The mindless, moving meditation state—whether your movements are structured or free-form, lets the subconscious sort through mental logjams. It’s the reason a long walk may be more effective at solving a knotty problem than trying to figure it out while sitting at your desk.

So take a page from a heroine’s book and indulge in a brisk walk, a bicycle—or horseback—ride, or a whirl around a ballroom floor. Have fun. Give your mind a break. Let your body move. And watch your spirit soar.

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