Benefits of Physical Exercise - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Benefits of Physical Exercise

This is the legendary 2003 Starehe Boys' volleyball team on the shores of Lake Victoria where we had travelled for national championships. I am the third young man in the front row, squatting and in a cap.

As an ardent reader of History, I have discovered that every great crisis the world has undergone led to steps being taken by leaders to prevent a recurrence of that crisis. Like the World War 2 led to the formation of the United Nations whose purpose was to make the strong nations just and the weak secure so as to preserve peace in the world.

On a more personal level, the crisis I underwent back in 2008 at JKUAT, where I was hospitalized for several weeks, instilled in me a spirit of exercising physically on a regular basis. I just shudder at the thought of gaining too much weight or trembling when unlocking a padlock due to excessive indolence like I did in 2008.

That's why I exercise physically on a regular basis these days. My preferred form of exercise is walking not only because I enjoy it much but also because a health expert wrote that it is enough provided it is done at least three times a week for at least 45 minutes each time (if my memory serves me well).

And whenever I go for several days without walking (like I usually do when I lose my mojo), I eventually find myself jogging all the way from home to a stream two kilometres away near Kiserian Town - like I did yesterday evening after experiencing a lackadaisical week.

I hope to maintain and improve on that spirit of exercising till my last days on Earth which I hope will be in my nineties. And that's great because according to Glencoe Health: A Guide to Wellness, physical exercise:
  • strengthens your cardiovascular system,
  • helps you control weight,
  • burns off unnecessary fat,
  • improves your appearance,
  • improves your sleep,
  • improves your breathing,
  • reduces stress,
  • improves your mood and outlook,
  • decreases your appetite,
  • gives you more energy and decreases fatigue,
  • uses time productively,
  • reduces boredom,
  • provides social opportunities,
  • boosts your self-esteem! [1]
Thinking about those wonderful benefits of physical exercise reminds me of my high school years at Starehe Boys' when I served in the school volleyball team. I would wake up to go for exercises at 6.00am in the morning and then play volleyball in the evening for two hours yet still thrive during class and prep hours - an aspect of me that I lost at JKUAT where I would get fatigued to sleep during the day probably for lack of a balanced lifestyle between studies and play. All work and no play made Thuita a dull young man.

But I am striving to regain the physical vitality that characterized my volleyball years at Starehe especially during these youthful years of mine when I am at the prime of my physical strength. My game plan is to re-read those benefits of exercise that I have listed till I drive the desire for exercise into every fibre of my being. So help me God.

[1] I have extracted these benefits of laughing from page 17 of Glencoe Health: A Guide to Wellness (Fourth Edition) by Mary Bronson and Don Merki, published in 1994 by McGraw Hill.


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In The Arena

This is Naru-Moru Primary School. I took the photo in early 2012 when I visited the school in an effort to reconnect with my roots.

Some time when I was in Standard 5 at the impoverished Naru-Moru Primary School of the '90s, I loved taking part in a boyish football game called Chobo which I am sure must still be popular among boys in village schools here in Kenya. Basically, the main aim of the game was to beat up the boy who happened to have the ball pass in between his legs as we dribbled it past one another. So we all had to be cautious not to be caught off-guard.

Quite a number boys were always extra-cautious not to be caught off-guard by standing still when the ball came near them or idling by the sidelines as they waited for the unfortunate culprit to beat up. But for me, I used to be among the few outgoing players in the arena who dribbled the ball while trying to pass it between some boy's legs. And on several of those Chobo games, I managed to come out of every game unscathed until one fateful morning break-time.

I was dribbling the ball with my usual valour and vitality when it passed in between my legs. And then suddenly, every boy especially the fearful idlers descended on me with kicks and blows on every part of my body except the gonads. After what seemed like an eternity of getting beaten, I must have gone back to class when the bell rang feeling more like a wildebeest that had escaped the jaws of a crocodile. That was way back in 1998 before the current 18-year old teens were born.

On reflecting about that boyish Chobo game as we played it in those days, I have discovered that it bears resemblance with human life in that most people idle fearlessly on the sidelines while waiting for the makers of the world to mess up so that they can descend on them with ridicule, criticism and malicious slander. I have been a victim of such attack especially on social media where I have been blocked, vilified and unfriended in my endeavour of sharing stories that entertain, enlighten and inspire.

But what have kept me going amidst the attack are my dreams, desires and visions as well as the inspirational writings of great men like this one by Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
So I will continue pursuing my dreams with renewed valour and vitality like I used to dribble the ball while playing Chobo in those old days at Naru-Moru. And when people ask you what Thuita does and where he is, just tell them he is the man in the arena.


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Becoming Like Jesus Christ

My friend Joe Mazzella from the beautiful state of West Virginia in the United States once shared with me an old, fictional but wonderful story which provoked my imagination. And because the story was fictional, I beg to modify and re-narrate it in my own words as follows:
When the great Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Last Supper, he decided to use living models of Jesus and his twelve apostles. He first began by painting Judas Iscariot when he spotted a man whose face appeared vicious, malicious, avaricious and hypocritical. Then over the next three years, he successfully found other men whose faces appeared like each of the other eleven apostles.

After he finished painting the final apostle, da Vinci was lucky to spot a man whose face looked like that of Jesus in that it radiated joy, hope, love, peace, faith, goodwill and self-control. As he was getting painted as Jesus, the man inquired, "Do you know who I am?"

"No, I don't know you," replied da Vinci.

"Well," the man responded, "I am the same man you painted as Judas Iscariot three years ago!"
While that story is fictional as I have pointed out, it does teach us valuable lessons to all of us: that the appearance of our faces reflect the condition of our souls and that it is never too late to change our character.

So let us strive to become like Jesus by making our faces radiate joy, hope, love, peace, faith, goodwill and self-control. Let us strive to turn our our fears into courage, our mockery into compassion, our idleness into creativity, our foolishness into wisdom, our ignorance into knowledge, our anger creases into laugh lines, and our sorrows into hope of a better future on earth and in heaven.


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