Q. I have trouble finding time for exercise. How can I make exercise a priority—and a prayer?
A. First, we have to admit to ourselves that no time is optimal. In fact, we can think of hundreds of things that are more fun than pushing ourselves out the door to exercise. I have three recommendations for getting yourself in gear: Pick an exercise time that fits your lifestyle and be faithful to it. First thing in the morning works best for me even if it means getting up earlier. Read the Gospel of the day before you begin and choose one phrase that attracts you. As you work out, reflect on those words. Finally, get out those rosary beads and learn how to pray the beads to the rhythm of your steps or reps.
Q. Pope John Paul II called us to be stewards of our bodies. What steps are essential in doing that?
A. Pope John Paul II stayed fit all of his life, so he’s great body coach. He would tell us to see our bodies as gifts in our care. Our attitude toward our bodies is important. What we put into them can bring life or destroy it, so eat healthy foods and avoid chemicals, trans fats and sugars. Learn to have fun with physical activity: Hiking, swimming, skiing and walking in the park were all favorites of the late pope. While you can’t have his medical team, you can make sure to see your own team of medical experts regularly. Last, but not least, get your sleep. Six to eight hours of rest is needed to keep well. In fact, John Paul II wasn’t above an occasional afternoon nap.
Q. My children spend too much time watching television and playing video games. What family exercises could we participate in?
A. Now is the time for tough love. There must be time each day when television and video games are off limits. This should not be negotiable. In my family, there was no television or video games until 6:00 p.m., and homework needed to be finished first.
After school, allow your child to get outside and exercise with or without you. Physical activities for the family might include hiking, rowing, swimming, tennis, handball, skating or biking. Decide as a family what looks like fun and plan at least one physical activity per week.