why exercise?

I recently laced up my running shoes again. Nine years have passed since my last (and only) 5k. After having babies, the impact just didn’t jive with my post-delivery body. Can I get a witness?

But with my youngest nearing four years of age, I recently decided to give it another try. So I turned in my gym membership and hit the pavement.

Something therapeutic takes place when I step outside. I head out just as the sun hints of waking my kids. The neighborhood lays still and quiet with only a few windows lit along my route. My shoes meet with the ground creating a rhythm to match my tunes. And I run.

I think of Him. I talk to Him. I listen to Him. And then mingled in my conversation with Him, I play the mental game reminding my feet, “You can do this. You did it yesterday,” willing them forward. And I run some more, red-faced and sweaty.

But more than the running itself, I’ve pondered the why. Why exercise?

I don’t think I can say it any better than Jim Elliot. He wrote a letter home to his mom while he was studying at Wheaton College. In an explanation as to why he went out for the wrestling team he penned these inspiring words:

I wrestle solely for the strength and co-ordination of muscle tone that the body receives while working out, with the ultimate end that of presenting a more useful body as a living sacrifice.
(p. 16, Through Gates of Splendor)

I love that. Ultimately, I run for Him. I exercise for Him. As much as depends upon me, I strengthen this physical body of mine that He might use it for as long as He wills. A living sacrifice.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers (and sisters), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

A living sacrifice is exponentially more than the physical. In fact, there have been pillars of the faith that couldn’t run or walk or even move, yet were passionate living sacrifices unto the Lord.

You can be a living sacrifice unto Him regardless of your physical state.

But for those of you who are able and desire to strengthen your physical body, I want to encourage you with a few quick tips from my very unprofessional perspective:

  • Determine your why. Why do you (want to) exercise? Create a “mission statement” that will motivate you when your feelings tell you to give up. Write out Jim Elliot’s words and remember the ultimate “why.”

  • Set some goals. Determine what suits you and set some goals. If you’re a wannabe runner, consider trying the Couch-to-5k running plan. It worked for me.

  • Recruit a friend. We need the encouragement of others. Find a friend to workout with or at least one you can call for encouragement. There are also some excellent places online that you can connect with others for accountability. My newest discovery is DailyMile.com. (I have 3 whole “friends” so far.)

Fill me, Lord…

Why do you exercise?
If you struggle to exercise, but have the desire, what is your greatest hindrance?

  • Lindsey Croston

    I needed this. I keep telling myself that I’m going to start exercising, and I keep pushing it to the back burner. I never thought about it the way Jim Elliot put it. I’m inspired! Now to act on it. 😉

    • I know. I love Jim Elliot’s take on exercise. It has stuck with me for years, and keeps my eyes focused on the ultimate “why.” Happy exercising. 🙂

  • Lindsey Croston

    I needed this! I keep having these great intentions to exercise, and it keeps getting pushed to the back burner … I never thought about it in the way Jim Elliot put it. I’m inspired! Now to act on it. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Loved this!! Yes, Amen! May we run the race he has set before each of us, with the fire and passion for serving him and knowing Him better through diligent training of mind and body…. I needed this word this morning!

    • “Diligent training of the mind and body.” It takes diligence, doesn’t it. You inspire me, friend.

  • Jennifer Butterfield

    Wonderful post! I am stairing at my mid-forties and exercise is a most if I want to be up and going when my now 5 year old sees her mid-forties rising in front of her. I also have had a constant exercise almost daily for the past year. My blues are almost nonexistant, my mind is clearer, my body moves much better than a year ago when I started. Nothing grueling. At least 20 min a day almost each day. I do want my body to be vibrant. I want my energy level to match my souls pursuit for sanctification! Love this and you just enspired me to keep it up!!

    • Keep it up, friend. Matching the energy of that soul pursuit — great analogy. {hugs}

  • Jolenelantz

    I was a yoga/pilates girl…I LOVED THE physical demands of such, and the quietness escaping the “loudness” of motherhood. I use past tense b/c I like you friend…I can’t rock it out since well…my 2nd born will be 8 next month. I haven’t worked out regularly since pregnancy with him…and truth be told 36~ it ain’t 26 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement. Gonna take it back to the throne- maybe this perspective will help. happy day friend.

    • Joyce

      I started exercising at age 17, I am not naturally thin and wanted to look better. However, I had no idea of all the benefits of exercising, such as an easier child birth. I was in labor no more than an hour with all three of my children and after my last one was able to move right back into my jeans. This was because I was able to exercise with him up until my 8 month. Utilizing lite weights builds bone density important for woman. Also I found out than when I exercised during my menstrual cycle my cramps would disappear, they did return however when I was done. Research led me to find out that God has instilled in us a natural pain reliever which is released during exercise. Other benefits, look better, feel better, more energy, helps to slow the aging process, relieve and or prevent varicose veins and much more.

      While there are days I do not feel or want to exercise God pushes me on and once I get going I’m fine. He reminds me that the reason I am in good health and unmedicated at age 47 is because I have the ability to exercise and do it.

      One key is to find what you enjoy, unlike Amy I do not like to run I find it boring. However, I do enjoy Tae Bo, Cathe Friedrich, The Firm and recently Amy Bento. Cathe, puts out a great newsletter which includes articles about exercise the benefits, myths and more. On her site she also has a workout manager which is free, it is geared towards her products, but they say it can be easily adapted, link below.



      Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. KJV

      Thanks for the reminder and great quote Amy.

      Peace <

      • Joyce Wheeler

        My computer is going screwy this was not supposed to post as a reply. However, I did want to reply to Jolenelantz to encourage her. I was there three different times and with my last child it took me five years and 25 lbs to get back into exercising. With my first one I went from exercising two hours a day to almost nothing, I kept telling myself, something is better than nothing. So, once you get to the point where you can do something do it even if it is not what you were doing before.
        Peace, <

      • Great info, Joyce. Thanks for taking the time to share. I’ll have to check out those sites! Blessings to you, sister-friend.

  • Clajgray

    Thanks for sharing this. I really needed the reminder as I am trying to get back on the wagon…

  • Excellent and inspiring…you may just convince me. 🙂

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