The great philosopher, physician, and rabbi Maimonides, also known as Rambam, not only gifted us with Principles of Faith, but, he told us, as Jews, “Taking care of health is required anywhere and any time, not only in times of disease but also, and in particular, in times of health.” It is the Rambam’s view that we should “persist in a regimen of health…” That being said, exercise and healthy eating are in our best interest. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for overall cardiovascular health. And something is better than nothing, so even if you cannot achieve the recommended exercise a week, do what you can to get started.
For me, exercise has not only been about physical fitness, but also a way of increasing serotonin and endorphins, improving my mental wellbeing. But, at almost 50, that mental and physical fitness takes a bit more effort at times. So, what can an almost 50 year old do for exercise? Running, which is more like jogging these days, has been a part of my life for over 25 years. Living in California allows jogging to be a perennial activity, and I am fortunate to have jogging paths that also allow for frequent wildlife viewing.
And, while I enjoy jogging, not everyone does. So, in the course of writing this article, I decided to consult with someone who knows a little more about the benefits of exercise: Briana Booth. Booth is one of the Merage JCC’s extraordinary fitness gurus. A Zumba instructor, Booth teaches classes at the JCC throughout the week and her high energy makes the class worth attending. My first experience with Zumba was hearing 40- and 50-something-year-old women discuss their class at 24 Hour Fitness… In my mind I pictured a room full of middle-aged women jumping around and “Sweating to the oldies” with Richard Simmons. Then I took a class on Monday evening at the J—I was hooked! Not only is Zumba a great workout, it is, according to Booth, a great way to diversify your exercise routine. It makes working out more enjoyable, therein making exercise more doable. For me it has also given me the opportunity to have fun and “let loose” something I am not always amenable to in a room full of people. But convivial hip hop music and Booth’s energy makes it difficult not to let it all hang out.
Do what you love – that is the key to fitness. And for me, fitness is the key to a healthy body and mind. For me hiking, jogging, Zumba, and cycling all provide those 150 minutes a week—and sometimes more. Whether it is utilizing the JCC’s fitness center (which on any given day is packed with the most diverse group of fitness fanatics I have ever seen), stomping around one of Orange County’s copious hiking trails, or sweating to the oldies – take care of your health like the Rambam dictates—even in times of health.
Lisa Grajewski, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist and adjunct Assistant Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She has been a contributing writer for Jlife magazine since 2004.