In my line of work—as a Christian fitness instructor—I often exercise and  pray at the same time.

In my Pilates class one evening I made an accidental discovery. We were doing  some mat exercises while I recited Scripture to the students and created a time  for silent prayer. A palpable sense of peace came over the room.

I noticed the same cause and effect at home. I was stressed out. It was my  daughter’s first day back at work, my baby grandson was going to the daycare for  the first time, and while I had mixed feelings about that I also had a long list  of things to take care of.

So I cleaned my outside windows while I talked to God. Within minutes, I felt  calm, focused and able to turn my attention back to my list of what needed to  get done by dinner.

This is what I discovered: Exercise and prayer are the perfect combination to  diffuse stress and settle our whirling minds and anxious hearts.

Certain exercises calm us more than others. Best are movements that stretch  and strengthen our body at the same time. They literally give a “time-out” to  muscles that have become tight with stress.

I’ve found that when we pray while doing these movements, God’s peace eases  our mental and spiritual tension, too. It’s the best-kept stress-release secret  around!

Here’s my recipe for a two-minute time-out for your body, mind and soul. Do a  simple exercise like the Single Leg Stretch, described below. As you stretch and  release your hamstring and back muscles, shape your worries into prayers and  release them to God. The Apostle Paul describes the result this way: “Before you  know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will  come and settle you down.” (The Message, Philippians 4:7)

Single Leg Stretch Lie down on your back with your left  leg straight on the floor and your right leg raised to your chest.

Place your right hand on your right shin or beside your right ankle. Place  your left hand on the inside of your right knee.

Raise your left leg a few inches off the floor. Flex your spine as you lift  your shoulders and upper back off the floor and look toward your belly. Keep  your core muscles engaged as you exhale, then switch legs and corresponding hand  positioning. Inhale and switch again.

Continue switching legs and keeping your core stabilized through this  exercise. Do not move your back or spine, only move your legs and arms. Repeat  five times on each leg.

Blessings, Theresa

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Comment by Dan Miller on November 16, 2012 at 3:49pm
Theresa - I love this piece. Being on the treadmill every morning is my time of spiritual and physical cleansing. I come away from that refreshed, calm and full of inspired ideas.

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