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The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
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Three Words That Can Change Your Life

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Msgr. Charles Pope - published on 08/04/15

Try them out today, you'll be glad of it

Sometimes we like to complicate things. Every now and again it is good to simplify, to make it plain and simple. The other day it occurred to me that three words describe the well-being I have discovered in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. They are, respectively, move, breathe, and trust.

Let’s look at each in turn. “Move” pertains to the physical, “breathe” to the emotional and psychological, and “trust” to the spiritual.

I. Move. Some years ago, my doctor told me that the secret to good health, strength, and longevity, comes down to one word: “move.” A sedentary lifestyle can cause innumerable problems: weight gain, lethargy, fatigue, boredom, depression, muscular atrophy, weak and/or brittle bones, shallowness of breath, poor posture, a weakened heart, an increase in the likelihood of pulmonary issues such as asthma, less-oxygenated blood, and less-clear thinking … just to name a few.

Well, you get the point. Move! Walk every day. Except for swimming, there is almost no better exercise. If your joints are already arthritic or problematic, an elliptical machine is a good low-impact option.

I was a runner earlier in life but my knees suffered. I don’t personally think that the human body was designed for sustained distance running; there’s just too much impact on the joints. Injury is common and some of the damage to the joints can be permanent. Because of this, I took up walking about fifteen years ago and walk at least two miles a day, six days a week.

Walking is low impact and easy on the body. It promotes aerobic breathing rather than the anaerobic panting of running. It requires little or no equipment, and provides time for praying, listening to music or podcasts, talking with a walking partner, or chatting on the phone (I recommend a hands-free device so the arms can swing naturally). I really look forward to my evening walks!

The people of the Bible were amazing walkers. Our Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Jesus, and all the Apostles made the annual trek to Jerusalem on foot, 70 miles each way. They walked nearly everywhere they went, through very hilly and mountainous regions. Mary walked 70 miles to Bethlehem when she was nine months pregnant. She and Joseph walked hundreds of miles to Egypt, carrying Jesus, and then back again. The people of the Bible were hardy; they walked nearly everywhere, often carrying heavy loads.

Move! Walk every day if you can. If you need to, start by just walking one block; then try to increase the distance a bit every day. But move. When you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of driving, but get off the sofa. Some people even have standing desks to work at in their offices. (See photo above right.)

There’s a handy little device called the “UP” bracelet that actually counts your steps for you each day. The goal for the average adult is 10,000 steps per day. Yours truly averages 12,000-15,000 thousand a day. There’s a video at the bottom that describes the “UP” system. (And, no, I’m not getting a kickback!)

Move; it will change your life, improving not only your body but your soul as well.

II. Breathe. My psychotherapist has a plaque on her desk that reads, “BREATHE.” Most of us don’t know how to breathe properly. We breathe with our chest and only fill the top of our lungs.

It isn’t hard to learn how to breathe better, using the belly. Babies do it naturally, but as we get older and more self-conscious about the appearance of our bellies, we tend to breathe less deeply. There is a video below that demonstrates the proper way to breathe deeply.

To breathe is to get in touch with our innermost self

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