We’re more than half-way through October, a month dedicated to the rosary. While we associate the rosary with benefitting our spiritual health, turns out it might just be good for our physical health as well.
Studies have shown therapeutic value, in regard to physical health and wellbeing, in prayer and meditation. Specifically, the rhythmic formula of praying the rosary can promote slow, deep regular breathing, according to a 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2001; 323:1446)—thus, contributing positively to cardiovascular health.
The cyclical pattern of the rosary can also be an ideal complement to a workout.
“The combination of the rhythm of the repeated Hail Mary’s and the rhythm of the exercise pace help clear the mind to focus on meditation,” she said during our phone conversation. “It’s a skill that does take practice, but once mastered, leads to greater spiritual revelation.”
Bowes—a certified personal trainer, weight loss counselor, wife, mother of two and former Air Force pilot (I know right, impressive)—grew up praying the rosary, and as an adult often prayed it while exercising.
“I found the rhythm of the exercise cleared my head,” she said. “And actually enhanced my prayer and meditation.”
While out for a run a few years ago, she incorporated the rosary into her interval training.
“The rosary can be prayed while you walk, hike, run, swim, bike, or any other sport that involves rhythmic movement,” she suggested. “It takes about 20 minutes to pray a rosary, which happens to be the minimum amount of time experts recommend for physical activity.”
In her 250-page e-book she outlines more than 100 different workouts, for beginners (me) to seasoned athletes (her), which can be accomplished while praying the rosary. She cautioned those new to exercise may consider starting with a decade or two and gradually working up.
Really the same holds true for anyone new to praying the rosary, whether during a workout or otherwise.
“I always recommend starting with just one decade a day,” she said. “The ‘soul’ of the rosary is meditating on the 20 mysteries, or events, in the lives of Jesus and Mary… starting with one decade at a time, you can take quiet time during your day to focus on just one mystery.”
And as we mothers know, distractions can be a challenge when praying.
“I get distracted… sometimes I’ll find myself ‘meditating’ on what I’m making for dinner that night,” Bowes admitted (we’ve all been there!). “It’s just our fallen nature to be easily interrupted during prayer.
“If you find yourself getting too distracted while trying to pray a five-decade rosary, cut back to just one or two decades and really discipline yourself to focus on the meditation.”