The Apostle Paul tells us “bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things…” (1 Timothy 4:8). Without question, godly living is far more desirable and beneficial than the discipline of a physical workout. It’s important to note, however, Paul does not disparage physical exercise in this text. Rather, he compares it to the greater discipline of growing in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Indeed, regular physical exercise is profitable in at least four ways:
- Exercise is good for our body. Practically any exercise benefits the body. Whether you work out at the gym or jog in the neighborhood, you are maintaining the bodily “temple” God has given you (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your body benefits in several ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity is helpful in preventing or managing ailments including stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and many types of cancer.1 In addition, because we lose muscle mass as we age, occasional strength training keeps our bodies in better physical shape.2
- Exercise boosts our energy level. While physical workouts can be grueling, they tend to boost our stamina, providing extra fuel to press on. This added energy is especially helpful on those longer ministry days when we’re prone to weariness and fatigue. Rather than relying on stimulants like power bars and energy drinks, consider the better and longer lasting benefits of regular exercise.3 I’m a big coffee drinker, but I’ve discovered I feel a lot better and have more energy after a five-mile run than five cups of coffee!
- Exercise improves our mental health. Regular exercise benefits the mind as well as the body. It sharpens our mental focus and helps us think more clearly during our hours in the study. In addition to exercise combatting anxiety and depression, the American Psychological Association suggests regular physical activity may also improve our mood, enhance our memory, and improve mental cognition.4
- Exercise raises our self-esteem. Regular exercise not only helps us feel better, it also helps us feel better about ourselves. We experience a sense of accomplishment every time we complete a workout, and we’re encouraged when we begin to see progress. Whether it’s losing unwanted weight around the waistline or building muscle mass on the biceps, our work has paid off and redounds to a healthier self-image.
Ministers: What are your exercise habits, and what would you add to this post?
- Mayo Clinic Staff, “Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,” accessed February 23, 2022, available here.
- Harvard Health Publishing, “Preserve Your Muscle Mass.” Last modified February 19, 2016, available here.
- Jennifer Warner, “Exercise Fights Fatigue, Boosts Energy” in WebMD. Last modified November 3, 2006, available here.
- American Psychological Association, “Working Out Boosts Brain Health.” Last modified March 4, 2020, available here.