The word can bring about different emotions depending on the person. While one might love the feeling of muscles burning and the mental push needed to get through a workout, another might respond with “No, thanks. I feel pretty good without needing to experience sweat dripping down my face!”
We all can agree (hopefully) with the physical and mental benefits of exercise. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk each day, there’s enough research out there showing us how our minds and bodies need exercise to remain healthy and feeling good.
But have you ever thought about the spiritual benefits? What if we can not only strengthen our muscles and mind with exercise but also our spiritual health?
There are countless earthly reasons to exercise and keep your body healthy, but here are a few eternal reasons to stick to that workout schedule.
Exercising clears your mind
You’re probably thinking this one is double dipping since this is a mental benefit of working out regularly. And it kind of is, but the spiritual aspect takes the mental benefit a step further. Think about your stress level each day. Now think about how you relieve that stress. TV, internet and relationships are not unusual ways to take the weight of your day off your mind.
Exercise is another normal way people clear their minds from stress. Relieving stress through exercise releases endorphins that give you a high and a positive attitude. When you experience the moment of relief, it’s almost as if the issues and concerns you were worried about no longer seem like the end of the world.
While you can use this time to simply revel in the freedom from stress, this clarity of mind gives you the opportunity to grow in wisdom. Satan uses the clutter of this world to distract us from hearing the voice of the Spirit. Imagine the understanding we would gain if we spent time with God during our moments of clarity. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with your Bible and a notebook after each workout. But if we simply became more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit and actively listened for His voice, our workouts could clear our minds and benefit our souls.
Exercising reminds you of the promise of heaven
Let’s be real. Even if you truly enjoy and thrive off of exercise, there are moments when you want to slump to the floor in exhaustion. Times when you want to guzzle water until you’re drowning in it. Despite the oddly comforting feeling of sore muscles after a workout, a hot shower would feel way more pleasant.
Exercising reminds us we live in a cursed world. From depictions of Adam’s six pack in the garden, who knows if he and Eve ever needed to exercise before they sinned, but needing exercise to prevent disease and sickness certainly puts a spotlight on this fallen world.
It also reminds us we will one day have perfect, resurrected bodies. If we believe in Christ as our Savior, there will come a day when we won’t need to worry about working at remaining healthy. We won’t need exercise to clear our minds. We will be in a perfect state of worship as we enjoy heaven’s glories.
As you sweat and endure pain from exercise, make a point to dwell on your future home and your future of no longer needing a regular workout routine. Use this time as a way of heightening your desire for heaven.
Exercising reminds you to push yourself
Regardless of when you exercise, you feel accomplished by the end of a workout. You know you got off the couch and did something. You know you pushed yourself beyond what you originally thought possible.
Navy SEALs talk about the 40% rule, the concept that when you are ready to quit, you are actually only at 40% of your potential. If you work out regularly, you know what it feels like to push beyond the burn to get the results you want.
What if we took this mentality for our spiritual life? There are many moments when we “aren’t feeling it” when it comes to spending time with God. Or we think we know all we need to about a certain passage so we don’t bother to study it again. The pastor begins a sermon and we think, “I wish (insert name here) were here to listen to this sermon.”
The moment we think we can’t move forward or we just want to give into the laziness is the moment when Satan smiles. But just like the 40% rule for our physical bodies, we should never be at a point of giving up with growing in our faith. There are always new things to learn and new perspectives to gain.
The next time you want to put down the weights or slow to a walk, remember you’re only 40% there. And the next time you think you don’t need to talk to God because you’re doing OK, remember you’ve never reached a place of not needing your Savior.
If you don’t exercise, take a moment and reflect on how your soul could feel encouraged through a new routine. If you have this workout thing down, then start your own list of how you can point your soul to Jesus during your next workout.
Our bodies are the Spirit’s temple, and we are commanded to honor Him with our bodies. This doesn’t just mean staying away from sexual sin and eating right. It means whatever we do with our bodies, we are to glorify God. Exercising is great for physical health, but don’t let that keep you from using those workouts as a way to honor God.
Let’s Talk About It: What are other ways exercise benefits your soul? Share your story!