Christian Fitness — Get Moving
Lord, please help me find ways to become more active each day. Give me the discipline to establish and maintain a regular habit of exercise so that I may improve my physical health, look and feel better, and more effectively carry your message and fulfill your vision for me as a Christian.
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
On its face, Isaiah 40:31 suggests that physical strength is a result of, or reward for, hope in the Lord. If you hope in the Lord, you will run without growing weary and walk without being faint. This makes intuitive sense because attending to your faith can invigorate you both mentally and physically. However, read in the general context of Isaiah 40 (“Comfort for God’s People”), verse 31 does not seem to be meant to address merely physical strength.
Nonetheless, Isaiah 40:31 can be read to provide inspiration to improve your physical fitness. If you emphasize the word “will” as it is used throughout the passage, it begins to sound like an instruction: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” “They will run…” “They will walk…” In this light, running, walking, and renewing your strength are things that you should do as part of your faith; they are the fundamentals of Christian fitness, and they are part of what it means to “hope in the LORD.”
This alternative view also makes intuitive sense. At least one well-known passage in the Bible clearly indicates that you are meant to take proper care of your body: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). With the benefit of modern medical knowledge, it would be difficult to argue that proper care of one’s body does not include physical exercise. And the healthier and stronger that you are, the better you will be able to carry God’s message and fulfill his vision for you as a Christian.
As numerous studies demonstrate, the many possible health benefits of regular exercise can hardly be disputed, including increased energy, loss of excess weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, a stronger immune system, improved circulation, improved metabolic function, improved digestion, lower stress and anxiety, improved sleep, and improved mood. Who wouldn’t say yes to all of these things? And this list is only a sampling of the many beneficial effects of regular exercise. Best of all, you do not need to go to extremes to reap these benefits. Indeed, while getting the exercise you need definitely requires commitment and time, it can also be easy and fun.
If you are like many people, you may not get nearly the amount of exercise that you need, and the steps suggested here are for you. While eventually it will be important to undertake a more serious exercise regimen, for now, it is just important that you start moving. Getting even a small amount of light exercise can produce real benefits for your health and appearance, and will lay the foundation for more serious physical exercise later on.
Because each person has different health considerations, it is worth emphasizing the importance of working with your physician to determine the safety and appropriateness of any exercise program. If there is any reason that you cannot undertake the specific steps outlined here, your physician can help you determine appropriate exercise alternatives for you.
For most people, walking is an excellent first activity. It is free, requires little preparation, and all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes. Head out your door (or get on the treadmill) and walk at a comfortable pace. As you establish your routine and improve your fitness, you can walk farther, faster, or both. If you did nothing but take frequent walks, you would be gaining significant benefits over no exercise at all. However, you can of course also add great variety to your exercise. Swimming, hiking, biking, jogging, skating, gardening, golf, and countless other activities can be fun and beneficial. And again, all of these can be done – at least for now – at an easy, casual pace.
Other strategies that may help those who have trouble finding the time to exercise regularly include taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, parking farther from the entrance to your destination, or taking the long route when walking from place to place during your day. With a little creativity, you can squeeze more exercise than you would imagine into a typical day. You can buy an inexpensive pedometer to get a rough idea of how much you are walking in a day, which can be fun and informative. If you sit at a desk all day, it is especially important to make time for a few breaks to get up and take a quick stroll.
Recite the prayer at the top of this page once a day for at least the next week. Aim for an initial target of one half hour of light exercise, such as walking or similar activity as described above, five days per week. It is fine if you need to start with a shorter length of time and build up to that target. Christian fitness is within your reach! If you already get sufficient exercise, it is nonetheless valuable to recite the prayer above to align your physical exercise with your faith.