Should Christians Exercise?

By COGwriter

Since it is a physical thing, should Christians care about exercise?

Despite government warnings and guidelines, a 2019 report concluded that few American follow exercise suggestions:

Americans Are Not Getting the Message About Exercising More and Sitting Less

Doctors and public health officials have been urging Americans to get more active and try to exercise at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate level, or 75 minutes weekly at a vigorous level. Even if you can’t fit in that much activity, studies show that any exercise is better than none when it comes to health benefits like lowering risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. …

Bao and his team analyzed data from a representative sample of more than 27,000 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, an ongoing annual assessment of American’s health, nutrition and exercise status. The resulting paper, published in JAMA Network Open, finds that rates of physical activity rates did not change much between 2007 and 2016. 07/26/19

In a series of cross-sectional studies including data from 27 343 participants 18 years or older from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2007 to 2016, the adherence rate to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for aerobic activity was not significantly improved from 2007-2008 (63.2%) to 2015-2016 (65.2%). However, time spent on sedentary behavior increased from 5.7 hours per day in 2007-2008 to 6.4 hours per day in 2015-2016.

Meaning  The findings suggest that further nationwide efforts are warranted to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary time in the United States. …

Conclusions and Relevance  The findings suggest that the adherence rate to the PAG for aerobic activity in US adults has not improved since the release of the first edition in 2008 but that time spent on sedentary behavior has significantly increased over time. Further nationwide efforts appear to be warranted to not only promote physical activity but also reduce sedentary time in the United States. (Yang D, et al. Trends in Adherence to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for Aerobic Activity and Time Spent on Sedentary Behavior Among US Adults, 2007 to 2016. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(7):e197597. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.7597)

This is worse than most believe.


Because obesity rates continue to rise. And longevity is affected as is brain health:

This Is Your Brain on Exercise

Our bodies, including our brains, were fine-tuned for endurance activities over millennia of stalking and chasing down prey. “We’ve engineered that out of our lives now,” says Charles Hillman, a psychology professor at Northeastern University who has spent decades studying the link between exercise and cognition. The toll our relatively new sedentary lifestyle takes on our bodies is clear: For the first time in U.S. history, younger generations are expected to live shorter, unhealthier lives than their parents.

... according to Richard Maddock, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis. “There is a very consistent finding that the brain works better after exercise,” Maddock says. ... Your brain becomes much more active during exercise, “perhaps more active than at any other time,” says Maddock. One way neurons communicate is with electrical pulses, and sometimes entire networks of neurons fire in unison, like a group of soccer fans chanting together at a game. These synchronized pulses are known colloquially as brain waves. Different kinds of brain waves, characterized by the number of times they oscillate in a single second, are linked to one’s mental state and mood. Lower-frequency waves occur when we’re running on autopilot: brushing our teeth, driving, or sleeping, for example. Higher-frequency waves, known as beta waves, occur when we’re awake and mentally engaged and are associated with attention, memory, and information processing. ...

During exercise, the brain becomes much more receptive to incoming information, leading to measurable changes in vision. ...

The benefits of exercise to your brain may begin as soon as your heart rate begins to rise. Imagine, if you will, climbing onto your bike for a morning ride and pedaling at a tough but sustainable clip. Your breath becomes faster and heavier as your lungs struggle to meet the oxygen demands of the body in motion. Your heart rate climbs as it pumps oxygenated blood around the body and into the brain. And in much the same way that your muscles demand more energy during exercise, the brain begins gobbling up glucose or other carbohydrates when the body is in motion.

“In the past, nobody had any idea what the brain was doing with all this fuel,” says Maddock. ...

A few things happen in the exerciser’s brain that make the organ appear younger. ...

“Exercise is a potential prophylactic against some aspects of age-related cognitive decline,” Giesbrecht says. “When you think of the fact that we have an aging demographic and the high prevalence of depression, there might be simpler treatments out there, like exercise.” accessed 11/19/19

One of the more unusual statements above was "For the first time in U.S. history, younger generations are expected to live shorter, unhealthier lives than their parents."

Lack of exercise is a factor in that, as would be consumption of less natural foods, as well as environmental pollutants.

Exercise can help improve human health.

Notice an article by Harry Sneider, the old Plain Truth magazine taught:


The right kind of exercise can add years to your life and dollars to your wallet! ...

You say you can't afford the time to exercise? The truth is, unless you have a special health problem, you can't afford not to exercise! Scientific research and experience prove that the human body needs exercise to maintain good health. No one can totally neglect it without paying a penalty. Millions suffer unnecessary ills and die prematurely because they are living inactive or sedentary lives for which their bodies were not designed.

Medical and health specialists around the world emphasize the importance of physical fitness, particularly in our modern world where riding and sitting are a way of life.

Dr. Paul Dudley White. noted Boston heart specialist who has helped presidents and other leading Americans achieve better health and productivity through exercise, has stated: "Physical fitness is vital for the optimal function of the brain, for retardation of the onset of serious arteriosclerosis, which is beginning to appear in early adult lives, and for longevity, and a useful and healthy life for our older citizens." ...

 I have worked with all age groups, with overweight as well as handicapped people. I have witnessed great transformations, not only physical, but mental and emotional, as a result of a sound program of physical fitness tailored to individual needs.

Here are some of the results you can gain from a good physical fitness program:
   • You'll develop strength and endurance which will help you perform daily tasks with greater ease and economy of movement.
   • Good muscle tone and posture will help protect you from back problems.
   • Your appetite and weight will be more controllable. When you are inactive, the appetite, normally a marvelously precise guide of how much you should eat, no longer functions accurately. In other words, you will eat more calories than you actually expend. The result is creeping overweight. Some overweight is not the result of eating too much, but of exercising too little.
   • Your blood and lymph system will function better and won't get clogged up easily. Coronary arteries will become wider; blood will flow easier and faster. Many doctors believe proper exercise reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. And active people have fewer heart attacks and better recovery rates than inactive persons.
   • The efficiency of your heart and lungs will rise sharply. The total effect is that all your body's systems will be strengthened, and you will feel much better overall.
   • Enjoyable exercise provides relief from tension and serves as a safe and natural tranquilizer. And sleep will come easier. (Plain Truth Magazine July 1977)

That article is decades old, but the benefits are still needed.

The Bible itself warns about obesity, getting fat, being physically lazy, and excessive eating.

The New Testament says that bodily exercise can help (1 Timothy 4:8), yet most Americans do not get enough physical activity.

In my own case, I typically exercise four mornings per week, and do meet the guidelines.

In I Timothy 4:8, Paul was inspired by God to write:

8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

“For bodily exercise profits a little. . .”

This sounds like a negative statement, but a more proper rendering of this verse into English from the inspired Greek is, “For bodily exercise profits for a little time” (see marginal reference). This is a positive statement ! Bodily exercise does profit for the “little time” of our physical existence on this earth. As long as we are physical human beings, physical exercise will profit this physical body. God wants us to be healthy and physically fit. (Luker D. Physical Exercise Does Profit! Good News, August 1966)

And while we are to, "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33) and focus on the spiritual (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7), God inspired the Apostle John to write:

2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)

Exercise helps people live longer and live better. Notice something from the US Centers for Disease Control:

Active people generally live longer and are at less risk for serious health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. For people with chronic diseases, physical activity can help manage these conditions and complications. accessed 07/27/19

The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make people feel better, function better, and sleep better. Some health benefits start immediately after activity, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. accessed 07/27/19

Jesus condemned laziness in Matthew 25:26.

The Old Testament also warns against laziness:

19 The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, (Proverbs 15:19)

15 Laziness casts one into a deep sleep … (Proverbs 19:15)

12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly. (Proverbs 26:12-16)

Yes, many have excuses as to why they are not physically active, and not all of them are valid.

Let me state that in my own case, and results vary, once I started to exercise regularly, I needed less sleep. And, in my case, ended up with MORE time, not less time, because I took the time to exercise (which I still do).

Now notice something that Solomon wrote:

18 Because of laziness the building decays, And through idleness of hands the house leaks. (Ecclesiastes 10:18)

So, building structures suffer from laziness.

Consider the same happens to the human body.

Particularly, in light of something that the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

19. WHAT! Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which you have within you from God, and you are not your own? 20. For you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, AFV)

So, yes, spiritually-minded Christians are to glorify God with their bodies. And physical exercise and avoiding various sins can help with that.

Of course, we are not to exercise to be vain. So, no, we would not recommend steroids to try to be some type of 'body builder.'

Now, there are some physical precautions about exercise. The old Plain Truth mentioned some of them:

Before You Exercise, Some Precautions

Almost all persons, whatever their age, can benefit from some form of exercise. But authorities urge these precautions to lessen risks of overexertion or complications that can result from existing or unknown health problems:
   • Discuss your plans with a doctor, get a checkup and follow his advice in carrying out your exercise program.
   • Take a stress test, offered by many doctors and qualified physiologists, to determine how much exercise is safe for you.
   • Start the exercise program gradually, increasing the vigor and duration of the activity only as your fitness improves.
   • Begin exercising with a warm-up period and end with a gradual cooling-off period, giving the heart a chance to adjust to the change in pace.
   • Exercise daily or at least several times a week. Exercising, infrequently does little to maintain fitness and, in fact, can cause more harm than good by straining not only poorly conditioned muscles but other vital body organs as well. (Plain Truth Magazine July 1977)

Risks of overdoing it include heart issues, yet for those who exercise properly and regularly, there are benefits for the heart.

Most need to work up to a vigorous exercise program.

In my case, when I started to really exercise regularly, about 11 years ago, I started very slowly and worked up to what I now do. Actually, it took one to two years to work up to my current level. So, do not overdue it.

As far as being overweight goes, notice some of what Moses and Jeremiah wrote:

15 You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger. (Deuteronomy 32:15-16)

Let me add that exercise is NOT a panacea for weight loss:

If you've ever Googled, "Is diet or exercise more important for weight loss?" you've probably come across this seemingly arbitrary formula for dropping pounds: It's 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise.

Actually, it is probably more like 90% to 10%. Some, try to exercise hours per day to lose weight, without success. One reason is that people tend to eat more when they exercise. If they want to lose weight, they need to eat less.

As we age, we can remain more productive and healthy. There is an expression, "use it or lose it."

That is consistent with what Jesus taught:

14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. ...

24 Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' 26 But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matthew 25:14, 24-30)

Do not bury your physical temple, work and strengthen it.

Isaiah was told to write:

1 Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)

Americans are too sedentary and it harms them.

It is good for most to exercise.

Could not exercising be a sin?

17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

While it could be a sin to not exercise at all if you need to, it is NOT a sin if you need to skip exercising at times for many, many reasons.

Consider that Jesus taught:

48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; (Luke 12:48)

You have the information that exercise is good for you.

So, yes, if you can, Christians should exercise. 3 or 4 times a week is usually sufficient.

You can live better and help others better if you properly exercise.

Here is a link to a related video: The Plain Truth About Exercise.

Thiel B. Should Christians Exercise? COGwriter (c) 2019 1119

Back to home page