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Barbara Reynolds brought this First word to the meeting on September 21, 2003.

Exercise

This morning, I'm here to talk about exercise. I believe God wants me to be the best steward of my physical body that I can be. I believe taking good care of my body is a responsibility that comes along with the gift of life God has given me.

I haven't always felt this way. When I was in high school, my asthma was bad and I looked like I was walking around the track at school when I was trying to run it! That was embarrassing. Later, in my twenties, I dieted with my co-workers, but I didn't exercise. It wasn't until 1985, when I was 33 and overweight that I began exercising.

I began by walking. I wanted to measure my walking and didn't have a pedometer, so I walked around a nearby 3-mile lake. However, I gave myself permission to take as long as I needed, with as many rest periods as I needed. That's how it all began for me.

Walking is an easy way to begin exercising. During walking is a convenient and relaxing time to pray. I have prayed while I walked. Lap swimming is another type of exercise that makes it easy to pray at the same time. Depending upon where a person went biking, that too is a good time to pray.

I'm not the only person to pray during exercise. In the September issue of the magazine, ORGANIC STYLE, THE ART OF LIVING IN THE BALANCE, there is an article about a 77-year-old Catholic nun, named Sister Madonna, which endorses running and praying. She says that it's never too late to begin exercising (but check with your doctor first). She also says, "Don't go it alone." And, I'll have to admit that having an exercise partner makes exercise a lot easier.

An extra bonus that comes with taking a walk outside is the freedom to enjoy the Nature. Nature is another gift from God.

Lately, I've been having daily pain in my shoulder. I get a lot of pain control after a really difficult aerobic exercise class. Exercise is also a natural anti-depressant. And for people without a depression problem, exercise will make you happier than you already are! God wants all of us to be happy.

So step out of your door, no matter what you're wearing -- it might even be your Sunday best! -- and take a walk. Look around and bask in the beauty of Oregon's God-given nature. And say"Hi!" to your neighbor! I hope you will enjoy exercising as much as I do.