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Healthy body, healthy spirit

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I ate too much unhealthy food and didn’t exercise enough. I wasn’t grossly overweight, but the spare tire above my belt was slowly inflating.

I hadn’t seen Dave for about a year. When we met for a coffee, I couldn’t believe how healthy he looked. I asked him what had happened.

Dave shared that he had started tracking his eating and exercising with MyFitnessPal. He set a weight goal. Then he began to enter his eating and exercise habits into the program to track his patterns.

I was intrigued and decided to try it.

My initial goal was to lose one pound per week.

I still remember my surprise the first time I entered a piece of chocolate cake. To my utter amazement, I learned that I had just eaten one-quarter of my calories for the entire day!

I carefully entered the information for a month until I intuitively knew what I needed to do to stay on track with my eating and fitness goals.

Within six months, I was at my goal. More importantly, I had established healthier eating and exercise patterns that I have maintained (for the most part) for the past three years.

I still hop on the weigh scale each night – to make sure that I’m on track – and make adjustments as necessary.

The Mayo Clinic staff outline seven benefits of regular physical activity:

  1. Exercise controls weight
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
  3. Exercise improves mood
  4. Exercise boosts energy
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep
  6. Exercise puts the spark back in your sex life
  7. Exercise can be fun…and social

A balanced diet can contribute to some of the same benefits particularly related to our overall physical and emotional health – and our spiritual health.

Based on my understanding of Scripture and what I gleaned from Gary Thomas’ book, Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul, I would suggest three ways that physical health connects with spiritual health:

All of life is a spiritual discipline

We sometimes relegate spiritual discipline to a list of practices such as prayer and studying the Bible. What I’m learning is that all of life is a spiritual discipline. Honouring God with our bodies is an act of worship.

A healthy body allows us to do more for God

A healthy lifestyle does not guarantee long-term physical health, but it can certainly help. Obviously, some disabilities and diseases occur regardless of lifestyle choices. However, as stewards of our physical bodies, we need to do our part to keep our bodies in the best shape possible within our current limitations.

Physical health contributes to emotional health and energy levels

I have access to a fitness centre about a two-minute walk from my office. Whenever possible, I go for a workout over my lunch break. I find that it recharges me emotionally and energizes me physically. My afternoons are often much more productive and enjoyable as a result, which I believe helps me to serve God more effectively.

As we take good care of our bodies as an act of worship to God, we will be in a better place to attend to and live out God’s call.

[Randy Wollf is associate professor of leadership studies and practical theology and director of ACTS World Campus at MB Seminary at ACTS, Langley, B.C.

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