When thought meets exercise, exercise is more beneficial.
“A particular mind-set or belief about one’s body or health may lead to improvements in disease symptoms as well as changes in appetite, brain chemicals and even vision, several recent studies have found, highlighting how fundamentally the mind and body are connected” writes Shirley S. Wang in an article in the Wall Street Journal today.
A 1999 study conducted by James A. Blumenthal, PhD at the Duke University Medical Center found that older patients with major depression experienced therapeutic benefits from an exercise program equal to what others received from antidepressant medication.
Interestingly, a follow-up study the next year, which examined the same patients, found that the improvement was more lasting for those using exercise — perhaps a result of a better sense of accomplishment and self-worth – an improved state of thought.
Shedding more light on this subject, Wang shared results of a study in which hotel-room attendants who were told they were getting a good workout at their jobs experienced significant weight-loss while others who did the same work without being told this did not lose weight.
It appears that it is not the activity of exercise alone, but the thought connected with it, that makes this activity beneficial. And while in some cases this may be nothing more than a placebo effect, still, doesn’t this provide a useful hint that thought is an important factor?
Isn’t it somewhat intuitive, then, that the quality of thought involved would make a difference, and that being the case, bringing spirituality to consciousness, or thought, would contribute to the quality of thought? Activity that is more purposeful, more selfless, more compassionate, more fulfilling in utilizing our talents and expressing our individuality would be more beneficial.
It occurs to me that a more spiritual form of exercise is the activity of thought itself and one form of this is prayer. I practice daily spiritual exercise in the form of praying, actively exercising my understanding of God’s love and of my spiritual nature, abilities and purpose as a God-created being. This naturally impels doing good for others – helping a neighbor by clearing their driveway of snow, for example.
A more effective form of exercise is spirituality in consciousness expressed in activity.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Never mistake motion for action.”