Two Types of Exercise

I have recently been away for a few days on holiday down to the coast. During this time, I was able to do several walks ranging from between 5 miles to 12 miles in length. Most of these walks were along sandy beaches. I especially appreciate the beauty of the beach and the sea, never tiring of them. I really enjoy returning from a walk knowing that although I may feel tired, that the walk has benefited me.

It was great just to get away and enjoy the experience of fresh air and sunny weather (well some sunshine at least!). I returned from my holiday feeling fit, refreshed, and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Often when I am away, I think to myself how nice it would be to be able to do this every day. I make plans in my mind about how when I return, I will try to do several hours of exercise more each week. Unfortunately, though this is not possible as 5 days a week I am at work, and therefore cannot fit time in my schedule for this amount of exercise each week.

Whilst I would not describe myself as someone who is obsessed with keeping fit, I do think it is important. I am not a person who visits the gym, my sole form of exercise is walking. Most weeks, I will aim to walk between 20 to 30 minutes per day between Monday to Friday. At the weekends I normally walk between 1 to 2 hours each day. 

However, although I enjoy walking and firmly believe that physical exercise is good for you, I know that we are not put on earth simply for this reason. Why you might ask?

My answer is based on what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:8). I like the way that the Amplified Bible translates that verse:

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.

For someone like myself, who has always enjoyed sport and exercise, this is an interesting and challenging verse! Paul is not saying that physical exercise is bad. In fact, he fully acknowledges it does have some value for us. However spiritual training / exercise is significantly more beneficial to us. It benefits us both in this life and prepares us for the life to come. Whereas physical exercise is just for now.

Therefore, we need to remember the importance of spiritual exercise, for example: prayer, bible reading, worshipping God, putting sin to death, and living a Godly life for Him.

Keep yourself fit physically but more importantly make sure you keep yourself spiritually fit too.

The Importance of Daily Exercise

We are now in the second week of lockdown in the UK and during this time I have realised afresh the importance of daily exercise. In fact daily exercise is one of only four reasons that we are supposed to leave our homes, the others are: to go to work, to buy food and medication. I’m currently working from home so I have only three reasons myself!

I have always enjoyed sport and leisure activities over the years, whether that be running, walking, football, tennis, squash or cricket. Although in recent years my exercise has been limited to walking at weekends and also when on holiday. However since the lockdown started I have ensured that I been out for a walk every evening.

Physical exercise is important. It helps keep us fit and in good shape. It’s also good for us mentally too especially if have had a stressful day at work. In the current unusual situation we are all facing I believe that we should take opportunities to exercise daily.

In his first letter to Timothy Paul wrote the following words, which are really relevant at this time:

Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

Paul reminds us here that whilst physical exercise is good spiritual exercise is more important. Perhaps now more than ever, especially as we are not able to meet for worship, we need to ensure that we do not neglect spiritual exercise. I know that churches are streaming services, which is great, but as a friend said to me: “it’s not the same as meeting for worship”. And he is right.

It’s very important that we make time for God during this period of lockdown. We must not neglect personal bible study and prayer. It is essential that we do practice these spiritual disciplines. If you are anything like me you probably find yourself watching more TV or spending additional time on-line. Although that is not wrong as such, we really need to make good use of this time and not neglect spending time with God.

No-one knows how long the lockdown will last. Let us use the time wisely. Keep doing your daily physical exercise but please also ensure you exercise spiritually too.