Exercise is not one of my favorite things.
I’ve been known to say that I don’t have time to exercise, and that if I did have time to exercise, I wouldn’t want to spend it exercising.
In spite of my distaste for it, I’ve managed to work out periodically during certain (short) seasons of my life.
But it never lasted. As hard as I tried, I kept failing to make it a true lifestyle change.
Until God impressed an important truth on my heart a couple of years ago:
There are wrong reasons to exercise.
And those had always been the reasons I chose.
My reasons centered around vanity. Pride. Selfish ambition.
I wanted to look good.
The problem is, those reasons just don’t cut it for a Christ-follower. At least not for the long-term.
Since that time, I’ve discovered some wonderful reasons to exercise that have absolutely nothing to do with the way I look.
And I’m happy to say that it has made all the difference for me.
Exercise has become something I do willingly – even eagerly – because I finally have the right reasons for doing it.
Why Christians Should Exercise
1. To steward your health
Christians are here on this earth for fruitful labor (Philippians 1:22). God has work for us to do, and if you and I are going to have bodies that are strong for the tasks He has given us, we must take care of them. (Check out the Proverbs 31 woman for inspiration, specifically Proverbs 31:17.)
2. To improve your mood
Studies show that exercise releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. (I kind of think God did that on purpose, by the way – a generous reward for our labor!) I’ve found this to be especially important during this time of year, helping minimize the effects of the winter blues.
3. To help you sleep better
The harder our bodies work during the day, the more soundly we sleep at night, allowing us the rest we need in order to resume our fruitful labor the next day.
4. To increase your energy
At face value, it seems to me that exercise would deplete our energy instead of boosting it. But the truth is that exercise improves the health of our internal organs, which makes our bodies more efficient with their normal functions such as breathing, circulation, and digestion.
5. To reduce stress
When our bodies feel better, so do our minds. Plus, exercise bumps the production of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that can help us manage stress better. These factors combined with improved sleep make exercise a powerful stress-buster.
6. To improve your quality of life
This point is really the overall effect of improved mood, better sleep, increased energy, and reduced stress. It brings to mind Jesus’ statement in John 10:10: “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” While Jesus wasn’t talking specifically about exercise or even physical health in this verse, I believe poor health inhibits many Christians from grasping the fullness of abundant life Jesus wants for us.
7. To increase self-discipline
Remember how I mentioned that I don’t like to exercise? When I don’t feel like doing something, but I do it anyway because I know it’s good for me, that’s called self-discipline. Paul makes this powerful statement in I Corinthians 9:27:
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Paul reveals the stunning truth that lack of self-discipline can disqualify our testimony in the eyes of others. While exercise may not seem like important Kingdom work, the development of self-discipline surely is!
8. To save money
Better health generally means fewer medical appointments, which saves both time and money. It’s just one more way in which exercise helps us steward well the blessings God has granted.
9. To be a good example
Considering these benefits of exercise (along with others I haven’t mentioned), it’s important to model an active life for those within your realm of influence. I have been inspired and encouraged in this matter of physical fitness by a few friends who post regularly about their exercise habits on social media; without even realizing it, they have provided a good example for me to follow in their footsteps.
10. To worship
It all boils down to this. Stewarding our health through regular, moderate exercise is an act of worship to our Creator.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
I would love to hear from you! What reasons would you add to this list?