In some ways, defining health can be as difficult as actually staying healthy.
Age, location, socioeconomic status, social norms and the barrage of misinformation available collectively make defining health elusive. How does one strive for something that is so difficult to define and understand a concept with so many different facets? With insight from Scripture, we learn that physical health is part of worship, and that worship is the appropriate motivation for a healthy lifestyle.
As Christ followers, we have a clear narrative for spiritual health in Scripture. Luke 10:27 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” A heart, soul, mind and strength continually inclined toward the Lord demonstrate a healthy relationship with Him.
As believers, we might contemplate whether physical health has any importance when compared to spiritual health. Do we ignore or regard other aspects of health as less important? Or does Scripture inform us that they are all integrally linked? Looking again at Luke 10:27, Scripture tells us to love the Lord God with everything He has given us: soul, mind and body. And we are to do this with “all our strength.” This does not specifically mean only bodily efforts but instead mirrors the exhortation of 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” While bodily care is not our top priority as believers, we are commanded to wisely take care of what we have been given.
Since we are called to good stewardship, what does taking care of the body we have been given look like? As with other areas of life, we must identify a balance. Scripture encourages hard work and warns of the sin of idleness (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:6; Proverbs 21:25; 1 Timothy 4:8). Conversely, orthorexia is a diagnosis that involves “an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy.” The “some value” of 1 Timothy 4:8 speaks to the balance we need as we approach fitness and nutrition. The pursuit of fitness cannot be all-consuming. We need to understand that spiritual health is the priority but that there is value in pursuing fitness.
In light of that, here are some practical exercise and nutrition tips I hope you’ll find helpful.
1. Establish Your Motive: Pursue fitness with the right motivation — worshipping the Creator.
2. Find an Exercise Partner: Find a friend or family member to share in your quest for fitness. Accountability is essential.
3. Warm Up and Cool Down: We tend to forget these important aspects of working out. But as you age, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the goals of your exercise routine without a warm-up and cool-down, as the risk of excessive soreness and injury will increase.
4. Keep It Simple and Fun: Park farther away from your destination. Use the stairs instead of an elevator. Find an active hobby or join a community fitness class. Walk at least 10-15 minutes after meals.
5. Train Movements, Not Muscles: Focus on functional, ground-based, whole-body exercises (squats, lunges, burpees, and standing pushing and pulling activities) instead of single-joint exercises. Training the core should involve anti-rotation and anti-extension exercises. Core exercises (sit-ups) and stretching exercises that involve lumbar spine flexion or too much rotation can be injurious to intervertebral discs. Exercises such as front planks and side planks are a better option for core, as you perform them with a neutral core.
6. Find a Pro: Invest in a high-quality program. Supervision is critical for proper technique, and you will benefit from someone else’s expertise. I recommend working with a personal trainer at first until you have mastered movements and exercises and have created a habit.
1. Establish Your Motive: As with exercise, we must pursue proper nutrition with the right motive — worship.
2. Keep It Simple: Eat different colors of fruits and vegetables daily. This ensures that you are getting a wide range of essential nutrients and fiber.
3. Focus on Quality: Eat high-quality carbohydrates (whole grains), proteins (lean animal and/or plant-based) and fats (mono and polyunsaturated) for each meal.
4. Hydrate: Drink water throughout the day. Since the body’s make-up consists of a high percentage of water, staying well-hydrated benefits all your systems. It also helps prevent a variety of conditions such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
5. Real Foods: Try eating “real” foods for a week. Avoid anything prepackaged and see how you feel. You might not go back.
6. Plan: Use an app like Mealime to plan your meals and snacks well in advance. This will help with quality and quantity of food consumption and may help save time throughout the week.
7. Make It Fun: Enjoy the process. Have your long-term goals in mind, but have fun with the preparation. Involve family and friends when you are shopping and preparing meals. The fellowship and accountability will go a long way toward reaching long-term goals.
8. Be Discerning: Eat for what you need, not for what you want. With the convenience and abundance of unhealthy foods, we must stay vigilant in our daily choices.
Learn more about TMU’s Exercise & Sport Science emphasis.
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