Self-Care: Exercise

Two hikers rest on a rock knoll along the Fifty Mountain trail, also known as the Waterton Valley Trail. Mount Kipp peaks out in behind the ridge.

One of the basic 30 ways to practice good self-care is to regularly exercise your body. As Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20,

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, or God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Imagine walking into a cathedral somewhere, and expecting to be amazed by beauty, grandeur, and elegance in the sacred architecture; but instead, finding that the building is in disrepair, with broken windows, trash and graffiti all over the interior.

Our bodies, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, are too easily neglected, overlooked, or even misused, and can easily fall into disrepair, not treated with sacred respect.

Christians who overly spiritualize their faith too often overlook the basic care of the temple of the Holy Spirit of their own bodies, allowing their physical well-being to be neglected or disrespected.

Other Christians who overly focus upon physical image, can get obsessed with physical fitness, and treat the local gym or cross-fit center as their new church.

Neither of these extremes are helpful or wise.

Good self-care involves caring for our bodies, respecting the temple of the Holy Spirit, our physical body as worthy of respect and sacred care. One of the basic ways we do this is by regular exercise.

How to you exercise your body? What have you found helpful as a rhythm of physical exercise?

Here are a few ideas for ways to train your body and thus practice healthy, sacred self-care:

Take a walk outside, walk stairs in your home, find creative ways to stay active, such as gentle stretching, or just walking around your backyard. Download an app onto your phone to track your daily steps, or an app to guide you in interval training. The app I have on my phone is HIIT Workouts by 7M, featuring beginner, intermediate and advanced interval workouts from 5 minutes to 45 minutes in length. These workouts are done at home, using no equipment. They focus upon various aspects of physical training, including legs, abs, cardio, lower body, upper body, or full body. The app tracks how often you’ve done the workouts, how many calories you’ve burnt if you are a calorie tracker, and how many total minutes you’ve exercised.

I began these weekly workouts a few months ago, and have found the time in the morning to go by quickly, especially as I listen to quiet music to focus my spirit as I train my body, and to quietly pray as I workout.

My wife and I are training for a 265 mile through hike this summer, and need to get our bodies into better conditioning for this demanding hike.

Overall, I exercise best when I am not thinking about the physical pain involved in training, but focusing upon higher things, such as prayer, or the future goal of going for a backpacking adventure.

In the same way, we train these mortal bodies best when we focus upon eternal glory while we are living in temporal physical bodies, an eternal glory that inhabits mortal flesh!

As Paul writes to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”