Help Yourself to Radiant Health
Do you have vibrant, radiant health? Perhaps you are handicapped or sick, or have some other physical ailment that prevents you from truly enjoying life. Maybe you are young, enjoying the blessing of youthful vitality and dynamism. Or are you feeling lethargic, tired and physically uninspired?
Whatever your current health, you need to understand deeply the importance of a key law of health: exercise.
The Need for Exercise
Sometimes 1 Timothy 4:8 is quoted as an argument against exercise: “For bodily exercise profiteth little ….” The correct rendering of this verse, however, is, “For bodily exercise profits for a little time.” The Apostle Paul acknowledged that exercise indeed profits, but compared to godliness, its benefits are temporary.
That is a wonderfully positive statement about both godliness and exercise! Certainly bodily exercise indeed profits for a little time: the time we are physical human beings!
The Apostle John wrote in 3 John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Exercise is an important component of having such robust health.
The two basics types of exercise are anaerobic and aerobic. Generally, anaerobic activities—like weight lifting—build muscles. One of the benefits of weight-bearing exercise is the fact that it strengthens bones, something women who tend to lose a lot of calcium (resulting in osteoporosis) should be mindful of. Aerobic activities (which require continuous deep breathing) strengthen the cardiovascular system—the heart, lungs and liver. Typical aerobic exercises would be jogging and brisk walking. Some exercise programs combine these two types, doing strength-related activity with rapidity and intensity to encourage heavy breathing.
Aerobic exercise is particularly important to your health. Consider how hard it is for you to repeatedly open and close your hand. By repeatedly clenching, opening, clenching, and opening our fist, we can simulate the repetitive action of our heart. However, our heart doesn’t tire anywhere near as easily as our hand does. Our heart contracts and dilates at an average rate of 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day, and close to 40 million times a year! No wonder King David said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” (Psalm 139:14).
The heart, the most important life-sustaining organ, needs aerobic exercise to operate at peak performance. Adult Physical Fitness notes, “Muscles are meant to be used. When they are not used, or not used enough, they deteriorate.” Indeed, inaction demands a penalty. Eventually, if we don’t exercise, our heart becomes smaller and less efficient, pumping less blood; meanwhile, the bloodstream slows, delivers less oxygen to tissues, and eliminates less waste.
Of course, as we get older, it takes more effort to exercise. Children and other responsibilities can easily crowd it out. But consider the many benefits exercise can bring, and ask yourself whether it doesn’t deserve a higher priority in your life. Exercise can turn fat into fitness, fatigue into vitality, and worry about health into abundant, joy-filled living! Almost immediately, tired blood will be revived: The volume of our blood will increase, and blood flow will improve by about eight to ten times. Fatty substances in our blood (cholesterol and triglycerides) will be reduced, lessening danger of arterial blockage. Plus, our organs will convert food and oxygen into energy more rapidly. Exercise will also firm up muscles, improve posture, contribute to a better physical appearance, reduce minor aches and pains, headaches and stiffness, and help to make joints more flexible. In many cases, exercise helps to combat many chronic problems, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, emphysema, and other physical ailments. Exercise will also increase the efficient use of energy in physical and mental tasks.
For these reasons and so many more, exercise is vital to our ongoing wellbeing. As the ymca says, it may not add years to your life, but it may add life to your years.
What exercises are most beneficial for us, and how should we do them? Before we answer this question, consider the following. If you have any questions about whether you should exercise, it may be wise to get a physical check-up to determine how much and what type of exercise would be suitable for you—especially if you’re handicapped or ill. The Gospel writer Luke was a physician and would have been well-versed on the natural, physical laws of God that govern the human body (Colossians 4:14).
In starting any type of exercise program, use wisdom. Remember to start gradually; to begin with a warm-up period and end with a cool-off period; to stretch and relax—two often overlooked but vital components to building flexibility.
You may need to work up to this kind of pace, but it is ideal to exercise daily or at least several times a week. A good rule of thumb is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.
What kind of exercise is beneficial? Anything is better than nothing. If all you can do is walk briskly, that is fantastic. If you can add more, or strive for more, then consider doing so as long as you don’t place your health at risk by going to extremes.
Generally, there are three types of exercises to keep in mind: warm-up, conditioning and circulatory exercises.
Warm-up exercises stretch and limber up muscles while also speeding up the action of the heart and lungs. They also prepare the body for greater exertion and reduce the possibility of unnecessary strain. Bends and stretches, knee lifts, arm circles, head and shoulder curls and ankle stretches are just a few of these exercises. These need not be done for too long.
Toe touches, sprinting, sitting stretches, push-ups and sit-ups are conditioning exercises. Conditioning exercises produce contractions of the large muscle groups for relatively longer periods than the warm-up exercises. Both the warm-up and conditioning exercises are generally considered anaerobic.
Finally, circulatory exercises stimulate and strengthen the circulatory (blood flow) and respiratory (breathing) systems. Walking, jumping rope, jog-walking, jogging and running all qualify. Cycling and swimming are also good choices.
Alternatively, if you have not been doing any exercises and would rather ease into the habit, consider modifying your daily activities. For instance, instead of parking your car closest to the door at work or the grocery store, park it farther away and walk that distance. Try taking the stairs at work rather than the elevator, or hand deliver a number of messages around the office rather than communicating only by e-mail and phone. Consider doing a little gardening around your home, or pick weeds out of your lawn. Each can add a little more exercise to your daily routine.
Once in an exercise mind-frame, consider using a variety of exercises and activities to avoid getting bored and losing motivation. The biggest challenge you will face is maintaining the ambition to continue an exercise program! A majority of people who start an exercise program quit within 6 to 12 months. However, the Apostle Paul encouraged us all to “not be weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9). Some simple steps you can take to sustain motivation include: 1) set reasonable goals; 2) go for variety; 3) track your progress (this could include measuring anything from your body weight or your waistline to your time running a 5K); 4) seek support (exercise with a friend); 5) devise a back-up plan for when conditions don’t work out for your primary exercise.
Most of all, though, God’s perspective on health and the importance He places on exercise should be our biggest motivator! Here are some reasons why God wants us, if we can, to be physically fit.
• For ourselves and our physical family.
Without our health, it is difficult to do much else. Good health is the third law Herbert W. Armstrong outlined in his booklet The Seven Laws of Success (request your free copy). “If the bellows we call lungs do not keep inhaling and exhaling the oxygen-containing air, man won’t live to achieve any goal,” he wrote.
• To set the right example.
The two most powerful ways our children learn are by association and by imitation. Too many parents teach very impressionable children to “Do as I say, not as I do.” What kind of example do we set?
• To be more effective for God.
If we have our health, we can serve God more fully. Early on, Mr. Armstrong knew he couldn’t serve God as successfully without effervescent health. He made it part of his education to study the factors that led to good health, and he followed them. He didn’t believe in retirement, and he did his most productive work in the last decade of his life before dying in his 94th year.
• To follow Christ.
1 Peter 2:21 states, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” By obeying the health laws He set in motion, Christ set a wonderful example that we are commanded to follow. He was an energetic, dynamic leader and would not have held up as well as He did under the extreme punishment at the end of His life had He not observed every physical health law.
As much as possible, God wants us all to be healthy and physically fit! Again, God inspired the Apostle John to write, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health.”
The unhappy results of breaking this law of radiant health are all around us. Buck the trend, keep this vital law, and reap the benefits today!