What Does the Bible Say About Physical Exercise?

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As with many things in life, there are extremes in the area of exercise. Some people focus entirely on spirituality, to the neglect of their physical bodies. Others focus so much attention on the form and shape of their physical bodies that they neglect spiritual growth and maturity. Neither of these indicates a biblical balance. First Timothy 4:8 informs us, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Notice that the verse does not negate the need for exercise. Rather, it says that exercise is valuable, but it prioritizes exercise correctly by saying that godliness is of greater value.

The apostle Paul also mentions physical training in illustrating spiritual truth in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He equates the Christian life to a race we run to “get the prize.” But the prize we seek is an eternal crown that will not tarnish or fade. In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul says, “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.” Paul uses an athletic analogy again in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” While the focus of these Scriptures is not physical exercise, the fact that Paul uses athletic terminology to teach us spiritual truths indicates that Paul viewed physical exercise, and even competition, in a positive light. We are both physical and spiritual beings. While the spiritual aspect of our being is, biblically speaking, more important, we are to neglect neither the spiritual or physical aspects of our health.

So, clearly, there is nothing wrong with a Christian exercising. In fact, the Bible is clear that we are to take good care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). At the same time, the Bible warns against vanity (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:3-4). Our goal in exercise should not be to improve the quality of our bodies so that other people will notice and admire us. Rather, the goal of exercising should be to improve our physical health so we will possess more physical energy that we can devote to spiritual goals.

article source: Should a Christian exercise? Is exercise something Christians should be focused on?

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God”

3 John 1:2 “My dear friend, I pray that everything may go well with you and that you may be in good health—as I know you are well in spirit.”

1 Timothy 4:8 “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever. That is why I run straight for the finish line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.”

Proverbs 23:20 “Don’t associate with people who drink too much wine or stuff themselves with food.”

Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

2 Timothy 2:5 “An athlete who runs in a race cannot win the prize unless he obeys the rules.”
 
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1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. KJV

I believe the KJV has the actual meaning of 1 Timothy 4:8 in ascribing how bodily excercises profiteth little rather than having "some value". I believe the denouncement was to put the emphasis on godliness rather than bodily exercises.
 
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Then there is that warning below;

1 John 4:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I can imagine how a believer may start out just seeking to take care of his body in maintaining good health, but when he starts taking pride in himself in what he has accomplished and start judging others by their outward appearance in what they have accomplished by physical exercises, then we can see why Paul was denouncing physical exercise in promoting godliness over exercise instead so that those who do bodily exercise lean on Him all the time for godliness against the pride of life and from lusting with the eye and then lusting after the flesh.

I suppose if a believer finds himself or herself unable to stop doing that, then maybe doing exercise in private might work, and if failing that, the try getting rid of all the mirrors; and if still failing that, maybe a prayer life and reading scripture should take the place of the time for bodily exercise till bodily exercise no longer becomes a provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.
 
The Bible says we're to take good care of this body we've been given. Nothing is to be done in extremes. Walking is good exercise -- climbing stairs instead of taking an elevator or the escelator.

Is there really anything wrong with feeling good about yourself. A good healthy self -image.

A person can go out walking and read their Bible at the same time or sing praise / worship songs while they are walking.
 
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then we can see why Paul was denouncing physical exercise in promoting godliness over exercise instead so that those who do bodily exercise lean on Him all the time for godliness against the pride of life and from lusting with the eye and then lusting after the flesh.
Paul never denounced exercise. He simply said godliness is more important.

Lusting with the eye has nothing to do with physical exercise, it’s a heart issue way before exercise.
 
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I need to exercise more and regularly. I used to love working out when I was younger but life is so busy at this season in my life and I am so tired at the end of the workday. But, I know that I should and I know how much better I feel when I am exercising regularly. I think the better value is that we are healthy, well and energized, as you (Chad) say to devote to others as we love and serve them in Christ. However, I don't really think there's anything wrong with wanting to look attractive and fit, either. It's a fine line but everything seems to be a balance in the Christian walk and the Spirit is faithful to correct our under- and over-balances.

My personal opinion is that we have a Christian duty to take care of our bodies which includes eating well and exercising (along with taking care of our emotional health) ....so this topic is a little convicting for me. :skeptic:

Also, I think so much of our depression, anxieties, and mental/emotional problems would be reduced significantly if we got the exercise we needed.

I've gone through a rough couple of years personally and have, at times, considered anti-depressants, but I refuse to try them first before I commit back to regular exercise. There is too much science to back up that exercise has just as much positive affect - or better - on our brains (hormones and chemical imbalances) and it makes no sense, for me, to take a pill that will most likely cause other side effects and damage over the long run without at least trying to get things in order better with eating better and exercising. I am not against taking medication totally - just think that we all should start first with taking care of our bodies and then resort to the medicine, if needed.
 
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I'd been going to a Biblical counselor for a couple of years which was able to end about 1 1/2 yrs. ago. He, himself, had come across some mess in his own life. Had been on anti-depressant for a few months and then went off them. Put into practice various tools he'd been given. Having someone to talk to , exercise, journalizing. He became really good with tennis.

He'd said that he'd had some clients on anti-depresents and sleeping pills just long enough to enable them To sleep and think more clearly and Then delve into what caused the depression.

My older daughter lost their older son about 7 yrs. ago. Then resulted in a messy , mean-spirited divorce on the part of her husband. He was the older of two sons and one of five kids. He was a victim of the choking/ fainting 'game'. Her husband had been part of our family for 20 yrs. The thought that Greg could actually Do that -- file for divorce -- instead of getting counseling. He Refused counseling. 'His' family could Do it on their own. Instead it blew the family appart.

Debs, our daughter, went a bit 'bi-polar' -- in and out of a couple of mental health facilities and , now, at 42 yrs of age is doing better. She's on lithiam now.

So -- I can identify with having some rough years.

My husband has PTSD and is on antidepresents. He needs them. He's a VietNam Vet.

We all have 'stuff' to deal with. Someone has said, that if your state of mind interferes with your relationships, work, etc. then being willing to get help is the next step. And I know that men have a tendency towards independent natures.
 
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1Ti 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

While physical exercise may be good for the body in this life, but exercising godliness is good not only for your body in this life, but also in that which is to come.
Godliness has value in the physical, and the spiritual realm, were physical exercise is only good in this life that now is.
 
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I'd been going to a Biblical counselor for a couple of years which was able to end about 1 1/2 yrs. ago. He, himself, had come across some mess in his own life. Had been on anti-depressant for a few months and then went off them. Put into practice various tools he'd been given. Having someone to talk to , exercise, journalizing. He became really good with tennis.

He'd said that he'd had some clients on anti-depresents and sleeping pills just long enough...
I'm glad you posted. I do think there are times that people can't even think to exercise or make healthy changes in their lives due to trauma and medication can settle the chemicals that are out of control so that a person can even begin to think. So thank you for sharing from that different perspective.

And I'm so sorry for all of the family turmoil. Life is hard. Really hard at times. Not sure how people do it without Jesus. Glad your daughter is doing better. And glad you were able receive counseling from someone who understands. That makes a world of difference.
 
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[QUOTE="Godliness has value in the physical, and the spiritual realm, were physical exercise is only good in this life that now is.[/QUOTE]

I have to respectfully disagree in the sense that exercise and taking care of your body does change things enough that it would affect your spiritual service....so while it may not, in itself, have lasting spiritual value, I totally believe that taking care of our bodies affects us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and therefore it does have lasting spiritual affects.

As an example, I think someone whose health is really bad can have no energy and may be in a state of depression. The ways this affects others negatively who they relate to on a daily basis are not minor. And on the other hand, a person who is thinking clearly and positively and has energy to sacrifice for others by going above and beyond to help or even just to emotionally meet the needs of another person has obvious lasting eternal affects.
 
[QUOTE="Godliness has value in the physical, and the spiritual realm, were physical exercise is only good in this life that now is.

I have to respectfully disagree in the sense that exercise and taking care of your body does change things enough that it would affect your spiritual service....so while it may not, in itself, have lasting spiritual value, I totally believe that taking care of our bodies affects us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and therefore it does have lasting spiritual affects.

As an example, I think someone whose health is really bad can have no energy and may be in a state of depression. The ways this affects others negatively who they relate to on a daily basis are not minor. And on the other hand, a person who is thinking clearly and positively and has energy to sacrifice for others by going above and beyond to help or even just to emotionally meet the needs of another person has obvious lasting eternal affects.
What I said is not my interpretation, it is exactly what scripture says. Bodily exercise profits a "little". If you want to add to what scriptures says that's OK by me, but we should only interpret what it says. While physical exercise is good , exercising godliness is much better.


1Ti 4:8 For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come. (AMP)
 
And a person can Also spend so much time trying to attain Godliness and developing / growing spiritually that they Don't take time to share what they are learning with others. Taking time to work in a food kitchen or noticing that someone's lawn needs mowing and does so without being asked or asking for payment. And That would be a form of exercising. If a person lives close to their church, taking time to walk instead of driving. Or depending on geographical location, walking around a mall to do shopping. Taking stairs instead of an elevator.

A healthy life means balancing lots of things together. During the day -- start out with Bible reading, take a walk around the block , back home to do gardening, go visit people in the local hospital. Inter-action and exercise. :smile:
 
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Greetings brothers and sisters.

A couple of questions perhaps worth reflecting on

What is the purpose of physical exercise?
Is it to look good, for body image, for muscular profile.....


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Galatians 6:14

Or has it become an obsession taking over time that could be put to serving the Lord?

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:17
 
Well -- in This country -- there is a problem with being over-weight // people not getting up and about and not being in good health.

And most recently in my husband's family, one of his sisters recently passed away -- colestoral was a factor, heart problems, and a couple of brother-in-laws have had too high cholestoral. Diet and exercise are factors in trying to lower those numbers. I'm surprised that there's a question of the worth Of it.

Most Anything could be done in excess. I would think that being in good health would be a Good thing. A person can go to the local gym and be a good witness while exercising.

And one of the posters says that those with depression problems do Good to get out and Exercise -- it does wonders for chemical balance in the body.

Maybe Americans have too much 'stuff' in our diets that lead to the need for More exercise. And those of us who are getting older -- weight is put on more easily and when we retire from jobs, the tendency is to slack off of the work we did to earn a paycheck. And those who Do a lot of physical labor / work might not have health problems.

Back in Bible times -- people walked a Lot, rode donkeys -- their diets back then were much different than now days.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit -- for the believer, anyhow -- we're supposed to take good care of our bodies -- what we put in to our bodies. We Are warned about gluttony. So - if a person finds themselves a little to fond of food, get up and be more Active -- exercise those extra calories Away. And a person Does feel Better by being up and physically active.
 
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