Spiritual Fitness: How to Make Exercise More Meaningful

I'm making an effort to find spiritually meaningful ways to stay fit.

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My colleague, Katherine Hobson, recently put together a comprehensive fitness plan for grown-ups, an everything-you-need-to-know guide for getting fit after 40 designed by Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon who wrote a book on the subject. The 10-week workout routine will gradually teach you all the basics, from building your heart muscle through aerobic activity to improving your strength, balance, and flexibility. Hobson's great guide and 11 tips for the over-40 exerciser got me thinking.

What should I, as a 38-year-old, be doing differently now when it comes to my own exercise routine? I've felt the need to make exercise an essential part of my life ever since I was a teen doing high school track (I always came in last in the 1,500 meters) and exercise videos alongside my mom. I took step aerobics classes in my early 20s and ran through New York City parks, sometimes worrying that I'd be mugged as the sun began to set.

Nowadays, though, I'm looking for something more fulfilling and less dangerous. I want to elevate exercise, infuse it with meaning. Five years ago, I completed my first marathon, which turned out to be a great experience for bonding with the friend with whom I trained.. While fulfilling that goal was meaningful, I don't have the time or inclination to train for another one. Two years back, I signed up for yoga classes and found that the meditative style and challenging poses gave me a feeling of accomplishment and inner peace that carried me through the day. In fact, right here in this blog, I'm vowing to sign up for another set of sessions. (I figure if I make a written promise in a public forum, I'm less apt to break it.)

I've also, though, learned to find meaning in physical activity that I'd never call a workout. The hourlong strolls I take with my teenage daughter on Friday nights to catch up on the busy week. The hoop shooting with my 11-year-old son, who laughs when his mom can't swish her baskets. The nights my husband and I go out dancing.

Have you made an effort to infuse exercise with meaning? What do you do?

Related news: Here's how to begin your 10-week workout routine.