A few weeks into quarantine and I am increasingly aware that rethinking my fitness is a smart move. What has been a non-negotiable effort for several years, a desire to prove my abilities to myself and sadly to others sometimes, too, is now an opportunity for something different. Don’t we just have to view all things in a bit of a different light while quarantined? In the last post, I shared about the hidden benefits of exercise and how it is just the mechanism we can use to meet many more specific and pronounced needs in our distanced lives. Today, lets consider together how we think about exercise and encourage one another to find the joy in this very generous gift from God. We’ll do so by asking ourselves a series of questions.

Are you listening? Yes, exercise is a gift from the Lord. As he is the maker of you and me and the maker of each day, he knows exactly what each day will bring and our specific needs as each day flows by. I have experienced more than my normal sense of weariness in quarantine. I can’t pinpoint exactly where it stems from but I certainly know its there. There are days when I know getting my heart pumping will help me mentally, physically and spiritually and other days I know clinging to a rigid schedule will suffocate me. Listening to the Lord is always paramount but I’m encouraging you to listen to him for your specific daily needs – is it a day to hop up and get after it, or is preparing for this day better spent at rest, in his word, and getting some steps in later in the day?

Please understand this is not an excuse not to exercise. I don’t believe the Lord is calling us to lay back and rest for the entirety of the quarantine (that would not be healthy at all), but he may call you to an extra day of rest here and there or he may call you to rest from a very challenging program to simply enjoying his creation with long walks each day. In our “normal” pace, we tend to schedule and hold tightly to a given plan but may I suggest holding your plans a little more loosely during quarantine – make sure the exercise you do do is serving you well in every way. As you listen and consider how to spend your time, focus on how would you feel after a good sweat – if that is even more exhausted, take a rest day; if that gets you motivated, go lace up!

Show up and sweat more than you don’t is a good rule of thumb.

“For in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28

Are you motivated? Why exercise in the first place? I’ve found the ability to really stick to a rhythm always goes back to motivation (and accountability). One gift of the pandemic slowdown is the opportunity to consider more deeply what’s motivating us to exercise. A few Wednesday’s ago I first noticed this reevaluation occurring…I was sensing my exercise that morning suddenly had less to do with proving myself, checking a box, or muscle maintenance; this quarantine reminded me exercise is a gift, a gift that can’t be taken away by threats or mandates, a gift to be utilized, enjoyed, and celebrated almost daily. As many of our other surface level motivations (the size of our jeans or how we’ll look compared to so and so at the beach) melt away, the purist motivation remains – rising early, breathing deeply, challenging my muscles and breaking a sweet sweat are a beautiful and productive gift to us right now.

Are you disciplined? Have you noticed the discipline in your days pulling back a little, or maybe a lot, during Covid-19? Maybe it shows up in your snacking or your screen time, maybe in your sleep habits? Holding our exercise plans loosely right now can be a good thing, but let’s do so realizing the very helpful effect a healthy lifestyle, which includes disciplined exercise can have on our lives as a whole. Sticking to a healthy fitness routine requires the discipline to commit and complete several challenging workouts during the week. This keeps us from becoming lazy, anxious and even sick – all things we need more than ever right now! But, this discipline is also “not compartmental,” as a wise accountability partner of mine recognized. The process of disciplining our bodies spills over …when we prove ourselves in showing up to walk, run, lift or cross train, we prove that tackling hard things like schooling at home, balancing work and kids, and handling many other uncertainties is both possible and profitable. “I can do this, too!!” is the exclamation we feel inside after breaking a good sweat! The discipline to commit to something hard, work hard to get through it and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done trains us for the obvious and hidden hurdles we may be facing. Exercise is worthy work, my friend; it produces a plentiful harvest and it pleases the Lord!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Are you open to opportunities? With all the new work from home, learn from home, and stay at home changes, there are opportunities to build or rebuild a new fitness routine for you and/or your family. Maybe as many other shifts in priorities take place, the desire to display healthy habits to those you are with all day, every day has become more important. Maybe the extra time on your hands leads to many family bike rides or friendly push up or plank challenges. Maybe you get a brisk walk outside in the morning air while your spouse is now home to be on point. Maybe streaming a workout video is a treat to yourself while the kiddos get the treat of some screen time. Maybe the kids bike and you run to keep up; that’s been the case several times around here!
Embrace this new dynamic with all that it has to offer in fitness and in fun! See the sometimes uncomfortable new rhythm of these quarantine days as a blank slate you get to fill with the kinds of exercise that work for this period of time. Here are some other ideas:
While you’re walking or running, change up your pace using an interval app to queue when to walk and when to run.
Pick a time of day and a workout that would enable your spouse to join you.
If you’re an introvert needing some space, a long walk is perfection.
Change up your playlists – you may go from rocking out to 90s tunes to a full fledged worship hour with Third Day or Lauren Daigle on Pandora.
Meet some friends on Zoom as you stream a workout together.

Exercise isn’t something we have to do; it’s something we get to do it! Seek the joy, friends, as there is much to be found! So many wonderful ways the gift of exercise serves us..so don’t be rigid and don’t be lazy, but be disciplined enough to listen to what your body needs and respond with expectation! Let’s go get after it…with joy!

Next time, we will consider ways we can introduce or maybe reintroduce fitness into our daily distanced routine!

Helpful Resources:
Interval Running App – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/26-2-marathon-trainer/id514662686 (I used this to train for my first 10k (the 10k version) and my first marathon!
10 Minute Abs from 21 Day Fix – https://www.teambeachbody.com/shop/d/21D21EDVD?referringRepID=2089820
17 Minute Core Workout from Spotebi – https://www.spotebi.com/workout-routines/ab-workout-toning-midsection-sculpting-abdominal-wall/
7 day Walking Plan for Beginners – https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/7-day-walking-plan/
Peleton App – FREE for 90 days of all types of workouts, lengths, and intensity. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/peloton-at-home-fitness/id792750948