In our last segment on spiritual disciplines we talked about prayer. Today I want to talk about the importance of physical activity. Initially it may seem as if exercise would not qualify as a spiritual discipline. However, we will see that scripture tells us otherwise and when we care for our physical wellbeing we are also caring for our spiritual wellbeing.
What does scripture say?
While most of scripture tends to be about matters of faith it does not exclude physical matters. One of the most commonly known scriptures with regards to our bodies is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”. What Paul is saying here is that we must never forget that our bodies are a gift from God and are a vehicle of intelligent design. God created our bodies to be and do certain things. To honor that design is to allow it to do what it was created to do. Think of it this way; if you bought a sports car for a family member or friend and you learned that they were putting the wrong kind of gas or oil in it or were even driving it off road, that would probably upset you. It is the same idea for the way God views our bodies. He wants to see us treat it like the gift that it is. But there is even more of a spiritual component to it than that. In 3 John 1:2 it says “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul”. Here we can see that scripture is telling us that there is a direct correlation between taking care of our bodies and taking care of our souls. Then the question that needs to be answered is why would we give so much attention to our spiritual selves while disregarding our physical health when they are connected?
What does science say?
Exercise is not just about growing strength or muscles. As science continues to develop we are seeing more and more evidence that exercise has a much larger impact than meets the eye. Firstly, those who exercise just 15 minutes a day have been found to reduce their risk of depression by 26%. To add to that, research also shows that when a person already dealing with depression adds regular exercise to their daily routine, it can prevent relapsing. It is also clear that exercise prevents stress, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD. All of this agrees with 3 John 1:2. Though the Bible is considered an ancient text, the authors clearly understood what science had yet to prove; that physical activity affects our mental health and our spiritual wellbeing.
What can we do?
As I mentioned before, exercise does not have to be about attaining a certain physique. To make exercise a spiritual discipline, all if takes it doing what your body was designed to do. Walking around the block is enough to move our bodies in a way that it was intended to move. Yoga is another great way to be intentional with our movement. It is no secret that the times we are in make it extremely difficult to be active. Not just because we are in quarantine right now but because everything can be done these days while sitting in one spot in front of a screen. This has led to less activity and higher stress, anxiety, and general unhealthiness. When we take care of our bodies we are honoring God and recognizing the gift that He has given us. This week I want you to look at your calendar. Find 15-30 minutes each day where you can focus on your physical needs. Ask yourself “what does my body need today”. If you need to move, go on a walk. If you need to stretch, do some yoga. This is a daily assessment. Your body is a great communicator and will tell you what it needs. Let us be people who are in good health, sound minds, and strong souls.
What are some ways you are working exercise into your daily life? Share in the comments!
Did you know that there is a fitness and fellowship Group you can be a part of too! Check it out! Fellowship + Fitness is a community of college students dedicated to glorifying God through exercise and Christian fellowship with each other (Col. 3:17, 1 John 1:7). Through running, yoga, racquetball, and other fitness adventures, we support and challenge one another as we blend our physical and spiritual growth (1 Tim. 4:8, 1 Thess. 5:11). Everyone of all fitness interests and levels is welcomed!