WEDNESDAY APRIL 18
Activity: Do your favorite cardio exercise for 20 minutes.
Why Cardio Exercise?
Ultimately, stress is a heightened emotional response to an external stimuli. Our fight or flight response kicks in and we’re off. That primitive response is rooted deep in the limbic system, the emotional epicenter of your brain. Our instinct to fight or flee has purpose – just ask anyone in a legitimately dangerous situation (being chased by wild animals comes to mind). However, for some this instinct is on OVERdrive. Even when they’re not being chased by wild animals, they are still continually scanning the environment, constantly in motion, and hypervigilant to perceived threat.
If this describes you, cardio exercise may provide the chemical changes your brain needs to calm that stress response. Meeting your inner instincts to make a break for it, full body activities like running, rowing, or swimming keep you in continuous motion, training your body to release cortisol, endorphins, and norepinephrine in appropriate measures. These types of cardiovascular exercises help you focus and control your breathing, another helpful tool when your goal is stress reduction.
Think of exercise as meditation in motion.
What Does Scripture Say?
Psalm 112:6-8 – Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Therefore their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Steadfast. Secure. Oh, Lord, that my heart would remain firm, trusting in you. Fill me with yourself, Lord, for YOU are the unshaken one. My emotions can be easily tossed about by circumstances, but this needn’t be true of me. I have the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus and I can have a steadfast and secure heart.
You see, this verse doesn’t describe a person who flees when danger comes. This verse doesn’t describe a person who fights, kicks, and screams in the face of bad news. No, indeed the righteous ones this verse describes wait with trust in the Lord. It says they conduct their affairs with justice and in the end look in triumph on their foes. This triumph isn’t a personal one – it’s a triumph that is FULLY the Lord’s. It’s because of trust in Him that (THEREFORE) our hearts are secure. He is our triumph.
So, all this talk about secure and steadfast spiritual hearts begs the question – what about the literal heart? The one that pumps the blood and keeps us alive? It’s hard to have a secure spiritual heart if the literal heart is weak. And, what’s one way to practically strengthen our heart? Yep, cardiovascular exercise. Not only does it strengthen our literal heart, but it can also reduce our stress and bolster our emotional health.
What Will You Do?
Confession: I am not a lover of fitness. Everytime I hear that word I think of that “fittin’ dis whole pizza in my mouth” meme.
My son, on the other hand, finds HUGE emotional regulation benefits from exercise. And, because I want to have a SECURE and HEALTHY heart, I am going to take my own advice and do 20 minutes of cardio today!
My dear friend and fitness aficionado Meredith Brantley will be coming to you LIVE later today in our Facebook event with even more tips and awesome info on the emotional benefits of exercise. Yay! Give her a warm welcome when she hops on, will you? Thanks, friends!