Everyday, I aim to get hot, sweaty and out of breath. (Do I actually reach that goal? Nope. Do I feel better when I do? Yes indeed!) Want to know my favorite G-rated way to get hot, sweaty and out of breath? Oh, that's right, you read the title and already know: mowing. I love to mow the lawn.
Exercise is important for the body, mind, nervous system, endocrine system, general metabolism and the psyche to function well. Regular exercise has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar, increase endorphin levels, decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure, increase feelings of well being -all good things.
The amount of exercise shown to have a beneficial effect in kids is 60 minutes a day, and in adults it's a mere 30 minutes, five days a week. What's the kind of exercise that 'counts'? Anything that gets you hot, sweaty and out of breath (HSOB) counts as exercise. So, who wouldn't do that? Most of us. Whatever the age, most Americans are not getting enough exercise. Me too.
For me it is not just about making the time. It is about feeling drawn to the activity. I need to have a small 'hit' of peaceful excitement just by thinking of the activity. Frankly, thinking of walking on the treadmill doesn't ever put a soft smile of my face. But mowing? Oh, I love to mow!.
Early this morning, I looked out my bathroom window at the sunrise breaking through the trees and onto grass. Seeing the overgrown lawn, I mentally reviewed my overly busy calendar and broke into a big smile: I can mow today! Yahoo!
For me, mowing gets me out into nature. I see the grass of course. And the trees. And the flower beds that I mow around. Then there are the clouds above and the sun on my face (or even wind and light rain, because I'll mow then too). There are all kinds of creatures to notice: squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks, birds and bees and tiny little frogs. (And sometimes a snake slithers past and the whole world seems to quiet for a moment).
Mowing is also productive. By mowing I am actually doing something, I am getting something done. The desire to accomplish is a simple fact of me. I love writing a To Do list and crossing off my completed tasks. Mowing is a twofer: I get to both 'mow the lawn' and get 'HSOB'.
Mowing is both orderly (I do love order) and creative (I do need regular jolts of creativity). There are straight lines to make and crazy curved path to manage (done differently ever time because I also bore easily).
Mowing is a solitary activity. No one pushes that mower with me. No one talks to me while I am mowing (and if they do, well, I simply cannot hear them). As much as I am socially engaged and engaging individual, I am basically an introvert. As a working midwife, I am around people all the time. When I am not actually with clients, there is almost always someone that is talking, texting or emailing me. Time alone is one of the best gifts that I can give myself. Mowing is a perfect way to be by myself for a whole 30 minutes.
Mowing allows me to be productive, create order, be in nature, act creatively and spontaneously, have time alone and get hot, sweaty and out of breath. So much pleasure and health-building tasks are accomplished at once; what could be better?
Ok, you probably do not feel the same way about mowing as I, and yet, I also suspect that you also need regular exercise to feel good in body, mind and spirit. So what works for you? Do you have a regular activity that gets you HSOB? Do you do it at least five times a week? Yes? Great! If not, let's figure something out that works for you. And while you are trying to decide what will be your regular activity that exercises your body, mind and soul, go take a brisk walk. At the very least, get HSOB.
Alright, I cannot take it any more -I have to get outside, open the garage door, pull out my worn and frankly beat up old mower, fill it with gasoline, prime it and then pull, and then pull again. Power! Finally, my hands on the vibrating push-bar I'll be off into my personal Nirvana.
K. Michelle Doyle
May all babies be born into loving hands