Moving Towards Health

Julia Lundgren
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Surrounded by commercials and advertisements of models with perfect figures, magazines, workout DVDs, and fad diets, everywhere we look it seems like we are pressured to feel like we need to be the “perfect” woman. While looking like a supermodel is unrealistic, we can all do things to keep ourselves healthy and strong. We know as Christians that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). While we should be primarily concerned about our spiritual health, taking care of our physical health is also important and a way to honor our temporary bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Proverbs 31:17, speaking of the proverbial woman says, “She girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms.” This woman is not weak. She hardly sat around twiddling her thumbs all day. She was busy moving around; she was working with her hands and rising while it was still night. Nothing about the proverbial woman indicates helplessness. We need not obsess over our outward appearance, looking to vain perfection; yet in moderation, exercise is one more way we can “put our best foot forward.”

Some find it overwhelming or confusing to exercise and do not know where to begin. But we are told in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” Nothing is impossible with God, and exercise too can be Christ-centered and done for God’s glory, seeing He is our Creator. Exercise can be a great learning and growing experience.

The following are some areas where exercise can be beneficial:

  1. Discipline: Which we learn by committing to a schedule and continuing to do something, even when we may not feel like doing it. Having a disciplined workout routine is a great way of achieving goals. Having a big goal can be daunting at times, but if you make smaller, more attainable goals that can be reached one at a time, then your achievements feel more rewarding and give a sense of accomplishment. Aerobic activities like brisk walking, running, swimming and bicycling make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier (CDC, More People Walk to Better Health, August 2012).
  2. Strength: Using weights, body weight exercises, bands, kettlebells, and other fitness equipment increases muscle strength and bone density, reduces stress, causes us to sweat, increases our blood pressure, and may bring other benefits to our health. Nothing is wrong with being a strong woman. We do not have enough testosterone to “bulk up” and build muscles like men naturally, so the belief that women who lift weights will get bulky is a myth.
  3. Motivation: Exercising motivates you to feel good about yourself. When you do something and notice positive changes, it makes you want to continue that activity to see results. Not everyone finds exercise fun, but involving others, like friends and family, can make it a group activity where you can talk and fellowship at the same time. More than six in ten people walk for transportation, fun, relaxation, exercise, or for activities like walking the dog. (ibid.). Walking is still moving!
  4. Energy: When you work out you gain more energy, get the heart pumping and blood flowing. Combined with a healthy diet you can have more energy to get out and want to do more. Exercising gives you newfound confidence, when you start feeling better and looking better.

Proper exercise can instill a positive and proactive attitude, and can improve your mood and self-esteem from the inside out. There are even many alternatives to traditional “workouts,” like dancing.

Women are examples to other women and younger girls, whether we realize it or not. With so many negative thoughts about body image and people putting one another down in the world today, especially other women, we should be lifting one another up and exerting a positive influence, encouraging each other to do beneficial things for ourselves, with lasting results. When we feel good about ourselves, our moods and attitudes improve and others around us take notice—and we are one step closer to realizing godly standards of beauty: sacrifice, service and a constant desire to improve…