The value of “physical training”

July 21, 2007 at 9:36 pm 4 comments


I exercise regularly – anywhere from three to five times a week. Usually, it is a three mile run (my favorite route is here, near my house) or a 1-hour body sculpt at work during lunch hour where a group of us work out in an instructor led class using free weights (I will sorely miss this class – more on this later!) Given my previous post about investing in the right stuff, I needed to investigate if the time spent exercising is useful.

Saint Paul, writing to his protège Timothy said this “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.” (I Tim 4:8). So at least in one sense, I knew that the time I spend exercising has some value. The same St.Paul also wrote (and I use the Message Bible here rather than my usual NIV) : “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (I Cor 9:24-27). While meshing with my previous post, this implied that training is essential to “winning”, whether it is physical or spiritual. (Hold this thought – I will tie all this up at the end!)

The final verse that supported my stance was this, again from St. Paul, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Cor 6:19,20). To me, this clearly meant that I was to look after my body – feeding it the right amount of food at the right time, and (because we don’t live in a world that demands hard physical work in most jobs), keep it strong and healthy via exercise. As you can see, the exercise I do involves both aerobic (via running) and strength training (via the body sculpt and other weight training exercises), and I believe this is a good mix.

My only concern was this though: Was the time spent in exercise balanced against the time I spend with Him, in worship, prayer or reading or meditating on His Word? In other words, is it possible to mix the two? I believe it is indeed possible to get these “two birds with one stone”, if you are just a little creative… While running, I use a Sony Walkman and listen to my collection of various Praise and Worship songs. Running is an activity that does not involve much thinking, and I can easily let my mind sing along in worship and praise while I perform this aerobic exercise. My heart and body is strengthened both physically by the heightened but steady heart-rate, and spiritually by His Word that comes via a Christian song I am listening to (and at times singing along in my out-of-tune tone!)

As for the body sculpt class, I was able to spend this time in prayer thus: The exercises are a series of movements, usually with weights as well as floor exercises. We work against gravity to strengthen various muscles – each series is a fixed number of movements. Our instructor is the best: She leads by example, always cheerful, always strong and encouraging, and although it is a tough class, she makes it light. She calls out the number of steps left so we know when that series is ending.

Since these numbers are fixed, I divide them up into as many portions as required and pray for specific people (and myself as well) or things that bother me during that time when I perform those movements. For example, we have side-lifts to strengthen our backs and shoulders, twenty-four on each side. I divide that into four sets of six each for each side: Pray for strength for myself in the first six, for my wife in the second set of six, for my daughter and son in the remaining two sets of six. Then, when I move on to the other side, I pray for my father (my mother is safe in Jesus’ arms), my brother and his family, for my in-laws and finally my brothers-in-law and their family. You get the idea – just break up any series of exercises into manageable chunks that you can use as a reminder to pray for a specific item or person(s).

I have to admit though that there are certain exercises which are really hard. They break my numbers, but I still am able to use that exercise! When my muscles ache and I want to give up, I think about the time when Jesus Christ died on the Cross for me. I think of how it must have hurt to hold his body up on the cross, all for me and you. Amid all that pain, he gave us seven words of wisdom and strength, and even prayed for His enemies! So, when I want to give up, I say “Lord: If you can do that for me, help me do this for you!” And that helps me get through and complete the exercise (most times, anyway!)

So back to the topic: Is the time I spend in exercise worthwhile? You bet! Is this exercise the right mix? Spot on! So where does the “training for winning” part that we talked about earlier come in? I posted about this previously in “The Father seeks..” We are strengthened when we praise and worship and derive strength for ourselves and others via prayer. My exercise not only helps me physically (and that by itself is a good thing), it strengthens me spiritually as well. Just as our instructor does her part and helps me exercise, we are asked to strengthen others as well.

If you don’t like exercising, I hope this inspires you to try. If you are a regular, I hope it will make it productive. In the words of Paul “I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line.” Winning this world for Him takes strength, and you can easily build up “strength to win” this way!

In His Majesty’s Service,

John Kanagaraj

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Entry filed under: Nature of Man.

Now there *is* something that we can take into the next world…. Recipe for Life: 3 parts “God”, 1 part “You”

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. celpjefscycle  |  January 12, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Thanks for information.
    many interesting things
    Celpjefscylc

    Reply
  • 2. Anu  |  June 14, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Hey John,

    I finally read this post of yours, WOW, how inspiring. I sure will try your strategy next time when I am about to ‘tell-off’ my trainer.

    Anu

    Reply
  • […] to you while dealing with everyday mundane tasks. Whether it is listening to Christian music while exercising or driving to work, or in this particular case, using a :”worldly” requirement to […]

    Reply
  • 4. Renew your youth! (and your mind) « Letters from a Layman  |  November 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    […] that of taking care of what has been given to you (in this case your body). And what better way to take care of your body than through eating right and exercising. (Exercise is a life long commitment by the way – it […]

    Reply

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