Is Staying Physically Fit Important for Christians? 

Posted February 12, 2016 (written 2012)

  
For all of you who don't think that staying physically fit is an essential part of the Christian faith, think about this: aside from gluttony being a sin, if you die because of anything at all that has anything to do with you not being in shape (such as a heart attack, heart disease, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anorexia, bulimia, starvation, low blood pressure, anemia, or any of the other things on this ridiculously long list), then you have essentially decreased the number of Christians on earth to tell others about Christ. Also, every minute that you spend thinking about health problems, praying about health problems, or going to the doctor because of health problems due to being out of shape, that is that much less time that you have to share the gospel with someone else or do something constructive for the Kingdom.  Of course, one could share the gospel with the doctors and nurses while at the hospital, but that is ultimately beside the point here. If you are out of shape, there will be things that you cannot do physically that will prevent you from sharing the Gospel with others in those situations that you are most likely not involved in, such as running events, hiking and backpacking trips, being at the gym (unless you are going to the gym to get back in shape, and then I would just say "congratulations!"). Your mental health will also most likely suffer significantly if you are out of shape, as will your social life, for most people generally look down on overweight people for being overweight. I am disgusted at how many overweight pastors I have known in my life. Being overweight generally suggests to other people that you lack self control and discipline, and in turn it damages your witness to many people. The money you spend on doctors, medicine, or gas to go to the doctor or to get medicine, all the extra food you eat (if you are extremely overweight), the bigger clothes that you have to spend more money on, is that much less money that you could be spending to further the Kingdom (such as helping out charities, helping out a homeless person, and so on and so forth). Not to mention you are simply not taking care of (being a good steward of) what God has so graciously given you, namely your physical body.
 
Now, as one who was a National Strength and Conditioning Association  Certified Personal Trainer  (NSCA-CPT) for two years, I am aware that some people have thyroid problems and things of that sort, and that sometimes weight simply cannot be controlled for a time. I myself have had to take medications that caused me to gain large amounts of weight in short periods of time. I am however also very aware that most people do not have these problems, but rather they simply eat too much and move too little. I am not trying to be insensitive here. I myself used to be extremely overweight (before I went to personal training school I wore a size 42 pants, I was 238 lbs. 36% body fat, and I am only 5' 8 1/2" tall). I also know that if you really want to get in better shape (unless you are already in immaculate shape, or have a physical impairment that hinders you from working out), all it takes is the decision to actually get in shape, followed by the necessary actions to do so. You don’t even technically need a gym or weights. All it truly takes is for you to eat less (and better, healthier, higher quality foods) and move more. For example, eat smaller meals and take a walk every day, or eat fewer meals of similar sizes to what you are currently eating and go for a jog 3 or 4 times a week. It is not that difficult if you are willing to make the effort. Also, contrary to what most people think, it is not really more expensive to eat healthier. That is of course unless you are not eating enough, or all you eat is muffins, beagles, cheese, yogurt, and things of the sort, then eating healthier can be more expensive, especially when you start buying lean meats. Meats really are good for you also, contrary to what many people claim these days, as they are a source of complete protein (beef is also high in iron content, which is necessary to avoid becoming anemic), whereas non-meat protein sources, such as soy and other plants, are incomplete sources of protein, and it is very difficult to get all of the nutrition and protein that you need on a vegetarian diet. It is possible, but you have to figure out how to supplement certain foods with other foods to get all of the amino acids necessary to get a complete protein intake. Carbs, while too many can be bad for you, are also vital to the proper functioning of the body, as they are the primary source of energy for the human body. You should try to eat more complex carbs than simple carbs though, as they are better for you generally speaking. Also, limit your saturated and trans fat intake as much as possible. Women can also benefit greatly from lifting weights, as weight bearing activity is the only known way to reverse osteoporosis (it can also help to prevent osteoporosis) since it causes one's bones to become more dense. 
 
If you are in the process of getting into better shape, then I would say to you, “You CAN do it.
All it takes is time and effort. Keep it up. You’ll get there!”
 
If anyone at all ever has any questions at all about any of this, such as how to get into better shape, what to eat, how to work out, or anything else, or even if you just feel like you are not getting anywhere with your workouts, like you have hit a plateau or are simply not getting any results (there are several reasons why these things happen), please do not hesitate to contact a personal trainer in your area who is knowledgeable of these things. Be sure to find someone who has a good knowledge base of these things though. It is very easy to get a personal training certification these days, and one does not have to know much about fitness to get one. There are even some certifications that all you have to do to get it is send the company $500, and then they send you a test. You can use whatever means necessary to answer the questions, including asking other people what the answers are, and then you send the test back, and if you pass they certify you. This is dangerous and I strongly disagree with this type of practice of certifying people. The best thing to do when looking for a trainer is to look for someone with a certification by NSCA
(National Strength and Conditioning Association), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), or ACE (American Council of Exercise). There are of course other decent certifications, but these particular tests require the person seeking to be certified to know a decent amount about training to pass the test and get certified.
 
In closing, we must, as followers of Christ, take care of our bodies and do what is necessary to maintain a healthy physical lifestyle. This includes working out, eating healthily, and getting enough, but not too much sleep. The Lord God Almighty has blessed us with amazing bodies with unbelievable capabilities to adapt and survive in the midst of varying circumstances, but that does not mean that we need to or should subject our bodies to extreme circumstances such as obesity (or anything that follows from being overweight).  1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "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 (NIV)." We must remember that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what God has so graciously blessed us with, which includes our physical bodies.
  

The money you spend on doctors, medicine, or gas to go to the doctor or to get medicine, all the extra food you eat (if you are extremely overweight), the bigger clothes that you have to spend more money on, is that much less money that you could be spending to further the Kingdom (such as helping out charities, helping out a homeless person, and so on and so forth).