5 Reasons Exercise is Good for Your Soul || Tim Meier

Posted on July 30th, by Tim Meier in Hand, Head, Heart. 13 comments

5 Reasons Exercise is Good for Your Soul || Tim Meier

The other day I heard a guy say that since he only has one body on this earth, and since it’s sort of on “rental” from God, he wants to take good care of it, so much so that when he gets to heaven he’ll get the deposit back on the rental.

He was joking.  He was also kind of serious.

If we only get one life and one body then the extent to which we care for ourselves physically could be a question of personal holiness.  After all, we’re not just supposed to love God with our emotions or minds. Jesus even reminds us to love God with all our “heart, mind, soul, and strength.” That means, ALL of who we are…even the love handles.

A few quick disclaimers before some of you hit “previous page”

  • I know that not everyone has the ability to exercise due to physical ailments, handicaps, or other conditions.  This saddens me, and one day, all of this will be made right by King Jesus.
  • Being lazy or enjoying junk food does not count as a physical illness.
  • I’m a runner so I’m biased towards endurance sports (and you might think I’m an idiot for that), but for 6 years I didn’t run at all and the reason that I started again is the heart of this post.

I’ve hesitated to write all of this because in some ways our culture is already tipped too far in body obsessions and the worship of the physical form.  Many people spend countless hours shaping their body just to look good at the club or to improve their self-esteem.  There’s nothing wrong with having fun working out but this post is not an encouragement of this out-of-balance view that the body is the be-all and end-all of our human existence.  Of course not.

I also don’t want to lay guilt on you.  You already walk around with unhealthy expectations of this world about what “good bodies” look like.  I’m not interested in that at all.  It doesn’t matter if you look “beach worthy.” This is about more than that, and the image that we’re trying to put forward is not the point.

Disclaimers done. Here are 5 reasons why working out is really good for your soul.

1. Compartmentalizing our lives is very dangerous.  If we have a “spiritual” side and a “physical side” and a “mental side”, that’s normal. But if we only worship God with parts of ourselves and not our whole selves, then we’ve missed the point.  So, if we neglect certain areas of our lives when giving ourselves as living sacrifices then we risk living out of whack.

2. The way we treat our bodies reflects our view of God. If we treat our bodies carelessly, filling them up with junk food and sitting on the couch living sedentary lifestyles, we subconsciously (or consciously) acknowledge that God doesn’t care much about what we do with his gifts, in this case our bodies. And just because we’re going to die one day doesn’t mean we neglect these “temples.”  If so, why do we read books or improve in other areas of our lives?

3. Our bodies are walking testimonies about God’s work. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean we all need to be super models. Some of us are round, some are thin, some are tall, some are short, and some will always be a bit pudgy.  But, the way we care for ourselves physically does communicate a message to the world.  Be careful, it’s easy to be obsessed about the wrong things and start focusing on how “great we look.” And yet, there does seem to be a disconnect for some people who claim that God makes us into new creatures but with our lives is looks like he just wants us to drink slurpies and sit on our butts all day.

4. When we exercise we unlock parts of our minds and soul.  I don’t have any scientific proof, this is purely experiential.  But, the release we get from working out, from running or cycling or lifting weights or from doing Zumba, helps us to think more clearly about our lives and about God.  It relieves stress, and gives us space to think-to take a break from the rat race and enjoy physical activity.  God speaks to us while we’re in motion too.  I’ve had some of the most revealing conversations with God while running on the trails.

5. Testing our limits is a spiritual endeavor. As a runner I’ve heard the jokes once or twice (ahem). You know, “hey have fun running that marathon, the only running I’ll be doing is to the fridge.”  I know, not everyone is a weird distance runner.  But, making the most of every moment of our lives, living to the max as it were, involves each of our capacities as humans.  God has created each of us uniquely.  Some of us will never be cyclists or runners or swimmers.  All of us can do something, though.  And the more we test the limits of what we thought possible, the more we learn how to live. Sometimes we learn big lessons about faith or risk taking the more we push ourselves.  So, read more, learn more, but also work out a bit more, to test all areas of your life.

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I don’t have a workout plan for you or a healthy eating regiment. You can certainly find those everywhere.  Even still, I would encourage you to get out there and take a walk, go for a run, put down the second candy bar, and love God with your whole self today.

He’s made your body for this, and you never know, you might just enjoy it!


Tim Meier Tim Meier is the International Director of Envision (a young adult ministry in 14 countries with the C&MA). Previous to this Tim served 4 years with his wife and boys as a Pastor in Paris, France and 5 years in the Greater NYC area. He loves to run, read, watch good movies, root for his loveable loser Cleveland sports teams, and play with his boys Blaine and Jude.
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13 Responses to “5 Reasons Exercise is Good for Your Soul || Tim Meier”

  1. k. su says:

    this is so true. almost 5 years ago, i decided that i needed to incorporate exercise into my daily routine (for numerous reasons). it is now a part of who i am and it is absolutely a spiritual practice in my life. i’ve had numerous girlfriends ask me how and why i rank it as a priority – and aside from my typical smart-ass response of ‘so i can fit into my jeans – duh!’ – my answer is ALWAYS ‘it’s spiritual to me.’ when my head noise is calmed by the practice of exercise, i hear jesus better. EVERY time. above all – that is what motivates me. i would venture to say that many others would experience this as well if they were willing to try. it’s extremely powerful. not many people see it this way, so i greatly appreciate this post!

  2. Christy says:

    YES, Tim! Thanks for a great post! Gluttony really is a huge issue in the church; all you have to do is show up on Sunday to see that the Christian population directly reflects the American obesity problem.
    But just because we can afford good food, doesn’t mean we have to constantly eat it! Exercise is irreplaceable, and we can also do well to access that one fruit of the Spirit – self-control – when managing our portions!
    Can’t wait to have you back in town this year!!!
    Christy Swagerty

    • Tim Meier Tim Meier says:

      Thanks, Christy! Yeah, the American church loves excess. You’re right, just because we “can” doesn’t always mean we “should.”

  3. D Moyer says:

    I came to the realization that I ‘need’ to workout about 6 months ago- it is a part of how God wired me and how He speaks into my life. It is ‘fun’ too but, for me it is about what you point to in 1, 4 and 5. Running has been God’s tool to shape and mold me- sometimes even to crush me. To use an over quoted line, “I run because God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”

    • Tim Meier Tim Meier says:

      Thanks a lot, Dan. Yeah the same thing happened to me about 3 years ago. For me this is about staying healthy in every way. Thanks for reading and contributing!

  4. Zach says:

    Tim, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I am super attached to my work in sometimes an unhealthy way. God , speaking directly and through my wife :) has made this clear. I appreciate the concept of “overall health” and not health silos.

    Really happy to read this.

  5. mccurdyca says:

    The only issue I have with your list is #2.

    The way we treat our bodies reflects our view of God. If we treat our bodies carelessly, filling them up with junk food and sitting on the couch living sedentary lifestyles, we subconsciously (or consciously) acknowledge that God doesn’t care much about what we do with his gifts, in this case our bodies.

    I happened to think this is a little bit of a stretch. People eat unhealthy for many different reasons it could be stress, it could be relaxing, it could also be a condition. Whatever the reason we all know gluttony is a sin. However, there have been plenty of overweight people who have inspired faith in me. I have had numerous pastors who are overweight and I wouldn’t be the man of faith I am without them. I would not argue that poor food choices are bad I would argue that you cannot judge the way someone is spiritual by the way they look. If you flip this and say people in fit physical conditions have a healthy relationship with God and care about their spiritual gifts I would say well that would also be an over generalization…. what if they are in good physical condition because he or she turned their bodies into an idol? ( I am hoping I read point #2 wrong but that is how I interpreted it.

    Otherwise, I love the passion and the motivation behind the article and all the disclaimers. As a long distance runner myself I find that I keep running further because I get more use to conversing with God as I run. One of these days as I get older I might have to switch to biking but for now give a road and some running shoes and I am off.

    Chris

    • meierxc says:

      Hey Chris, thanks so much for your thoughts. You’re absolutely right! People’s appearance has little to do with their spiritual state. A chubby guy might be much more spiritual than a body builder. And, my mentor is overweight, no doubt that your physical appearance doesn’t change your spiritual impact either. I guess the point of #2 was to help people think through holistic views of surrender. So, even if you stay chubby all your life, and other people are naturally thin, doesn’t mean either of them should neglect areas of their lives. Obviously there is another side to this post that would quote Paul “physical exercise is of SOME value.” Godliness is more important than being in shape, but I just think that the way we view our bodies can and does relate to our godliness if carelessness or laziness is a marker in other areas of our lives and not just in the way we eat. Hope that made sense. I really appreciate the thoughts, you’re clearly right on.

  6. Zach Sparks says:

    Bro, do you even lift?

  7. Emeline says:

    [..e.uTubYo.] So sad to see it end, lets hope the ending lives up to what it truly deserves. 24 – the greatest tv series ever bar none. Goodbye & thank you for some of the best tv ever seen

  8. Attention, votre nom public est “eouine”. C’est donc le nom de l’auteur inscrit dans la base de données. Cette métadonnée fausse va se répercuter dans tout l’écosystème d’Hypothèses, puis d’OpenEdition. Lorsque vous ferez une recherche par nom, vous ne vous trouverez pas. Lorsque nous construirons un index par auteurs d’OpenEdition, vous apparaîtrez sous le nom “eouine”. Idem sur les moteurs qui vont indexer nos données structurées. Dommage, non?De l’importance des métadonnées et de leur circulation…Bien cordialement,Marin Dacos

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