A few years ago, Jennifer Thorne was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A mother of four, Thorne experienced days when she couldn’t get out of bed. The medicine she was on affected her day-to-day life, causing her to feel sluggish. That led to weight gain.
Upon her doctor’s advice, Thorne began an exercise program and committed time to improving her physical health.
The benefits were almost immediate. She saw an improvement in her physical symptoms as well as in her spiritual and mental outlook.
“My kids would say, ‘You can do it mom!’” she said. “The Lord placed me in better physical health to take care of my family better. God cleared my stress away, and I really have been closer to the Lord. I have more clarity in hearing what He has to say and how to take care of my family so they can take care of themselves too.”
In today’s appearance-obsessed culture, physical health is often equated with how one looks. However, good physical health affects not only the individual, but also those the individual is tasked with caring for.
Before embarking on a new wellness plan, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor. But physical fitness can begin with something as simple as a stroll through your neighborhood, and the benefits begin almost immediately.
A good first step
Numerous studies have shown that even something as simple as a walk releases chemicals in the human brain that make an individual feel better, with boosted self-esteem, better concentration and improved sleep.
Physical activity also improves one’s energy and motivation, provides a sense of achievement and relieves stress. Not bad for something that costs no money!
Other free or low-cost options might include playing tennis at a local park, doing squats or pushups or finding a group fitness class in your community.
Eating well is also part of a healthy lifestyle. Many people love fried foods, cake, pizza, chips and hamburgers, but there is a limit on what we should eat as we take care of God’s temple.
This does not mean that you can’t eat pizza or enjoy popcorn at the movies, but as you do, watch your portion sizes and balance out the less healthy foods with fruits and vegetables.
Finding a healthy diet is good for your heart, body and energy level.
Many books and apps are available to help track calories, plan daily menus and learn more about the foods you consume.
A final aspect of physical health is community. Spending time with others by participating in a group fitness class or taking a walk is valuable for all-around wellness.
“Like (with) our faith, we need both moments of shared experiences and personal reflection,” wrote Mark Smith, a campus pastor of The Hallows Church in Seattle, in a “Faith and Fitness” series on the church’s blog. “Exercising in a community brings healthy accountability and fun to the mix. You realize you are not the only one facing challenges and can turn your introspective tendencies toward celebrating a friend’s achievements.”
Knowing that you have people supporting you in your physical health journey gives you accountability and incentive to keep going. If you have Christian workout buddies or a running team, you know that they will cheer you on and push you to do better.
As you work out, remember that your main objective is to glorify the Lord and take care of His temple. Use this as an incentive to gather a group and start working out together and taking your physical health seriously.