by Charlene Muhammad
I had the great privilege of participating in the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k run the last weekend of June along with 2500 women. (That’s me on the left in the photo, with Stacey and Dondra shortly after we finished the race!) This 5k run is considered a “classic” because it is one of the first all-women’s running event in the country! For over 35 years, women from around the metropolitan Baltimore-DC area – and now nationally and internationally- join this event for both competitive and non-competitive fun. Having participated in many racing events over the years, the Baltimore Women’s Classic is by far the most spirit-filled running event I’ve attended.
Women of all ages participated in this race: running, walking or skipping along enjoying one another’s company and appreciating the benefit of physical activity together as a sisterhood. The age categories included one for women between the ages of 70 and 79 years of age! I must confess that I was humbled that the first place winner of this event (age 75) ran the race 4 minutes faster than I did. What an incentive for me to keep up my personal duty of exercise!
Exercise is described as our need to “practice or exert [energy] in order to train, strengthen or develop” ourselves. Physical exercise makes it “real” since living in our bodies requires that we pay attention to the sensations needed to maneuver through life. Since physical exercise most definitely assures that we will “feel” it- it is best to choose an activity that will also suit us body, mind and spirit.
Running is foremost a mental exercise for me. I love to run outdoors, no matter what the weather, because I have a strong desire to appreciate nature and I desire to do this daily. Running provides me with time to think. Since my mind moves pretty quickly most of the time, running helps me feel as though my body is moving in time with my thoughts.
Next to running, yoga is my exercise of choice. Although yoga is also my personal lifestyle practice- Hatha yoga or the physical asana practice is only one aspect of yoga- it does provide me with another vehicle to practice synchronizing my body with my mind and heart.
Our bodies are designed for a life of movement- we were not born to be sedentary couch potatoes! Just as we must exercise our minds through reading, listening and absorbing information to gain knowledge, and exercise our hearts by practicing the art of relationships, we must not forget that physical exercise, too, assures a life of fulfillment. Our body is our temple. Temples represent sacred places for the spirit to dwell. With that understanding, exercising becomes more than a painful chore. Our daily exercise practice becomes a thing of beauty.