The gift that keeps on giving

A gift is something that is thoughtful and given with intention for the recipient.

Fitness is a gift.

This thought crossed my mind several months ago as I lay in savasana at the end of a challenging power yoga work out.  I felt good.   Feeling good, in and of itself, is a gift these days.  I had challenged my body, though, and knew it would pay dividends.    Being fit means I feel confident about how I look and what my body is capable of doing.  Fitness is a gift I give myself.

Fitness is a gift I give to those I love.

One beautiful day this past summer I was hiking with my partner, Paul.  We chose the most challenging trail up a New England mountain.  Both of us are in good shape.  We were breathing hard and sweating as we reached the summit but we felt good.  We felt the satisfaction of challenging our bodies; of accomplishing a goal.   As we looked out at the beautiful vistas, I was reminded of my thought on the yoga mat a few months earlier.   This was a gift.   Had I not been in good shape, I would not have been able to complete the hike.  I would have missed the beauty of the landscape from this vantage point, and I wouldn’t have been able to share it with Paul.   He might not have done the hike by himself if I had not been physically able to do it, so he would have missed out on the experience, too.  Being able to go on that hike – to enjoy the physical challenge and the beauty waiting for us at the top – was a gift to both of us.

Fitness is a gift we can all give to our society.

I am reminded of this as I work with a client who is suffering from an acute illness.    This person was in excellent shape prior to the diagnosis and has remained as active as possible during treatment.    This client is able to maintain activities of daily living, continue to work as a productive employee, and be a contributing family member.   A less fit person might not have had as strong an immune system or a body strong enough to withstand the ravages of chemotherapy.    True, this person has an amazing attitude and strong will.  I believe that at least some of that that positive outlook – that “mental fitness” – stems from the gift of physical fitness one gives to oneself.

Unlike my client’s acute illness, many of the health issues burdening our health care system, driving up health insurance premiums, and decreasing productivity in the workforce are avoidable.  The effects of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure – even depression – can be decreased or eliminated with regular exercise and good nutrition.   As we look at spiraling health costs and universal health care, it’s easy to blame big insurance companies or government.  But stop to consider your part in the process.  What can you do to help yourself?  To help your community?

Give yourself – and others – the gift of your fitness.  Unwrap it, enjoy it, and share it.

 

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