Tuesday, October 26, 2010

3 biblical reasons to exercise

My family and friends who know me best know that I'm an avid exerciser. My solitary run, pick up basketball with friends or lifting circuit at the gym is something that I really look forward to each day. The exercise endorphins got a hold of me in high school and even more in college, and they haven't let go of me since. Now I can't stop myself from remembering how good it feels to get active, so that the laziest moods can be won over by the familiar feeling of post-workout satisfaction and energy. Exercise has also been shown to decrease feelings of depression and heighten energy. As I continue studying in the field of mental health, I've seen that one of the first interventions for people who are depressed is simply getting them more active each day.

Here are three biblical reasons for exercise from David Parrish on The Resurgence:
1. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that our body is God's temple where his Spirit dwells (1 Cor 6:19)
2. Our bodies are members of Christ and should not be abused (1 Cor 6:15)
3. Our body is not our own, it is God's. How dare we desecrate it on purpose? (1 Cor 6:19-20)

What a lot of people forget is that exercise can be simply walking for 30 minutes a day while chatting with a friend, playing with their dog or taking a post-dinner bike ride. The important thing is to get moving as a starting point.

The flip side of needing more exercise is where I can easily fall if I'm not careful, making exercise an idol that I hold in a clenched fist, unwilling to let go if I can't do it when I want to and how often I want to. My heart can so quickly fall into a legalistic idolatry with exercise where I set rules for myself that must be satisfied or I become upset or guilty. This idolatry is something that I must continually war against, remembering that my body is Christ's temple, not for my own good, but for the glory of the Father. There are times when I will have to sacrifice my own wants so that I can worship God with my time, my energy, my relationships with others, my heart. At these moments, I have to remember 1 Timothy 4:8. "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

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