Sweat the Small Stuff

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Some people love to exercise. Many of my friends when I was in high school and college couldn’t wait to get to the gym or the running track. I was not one of them. I wish I were. I did not mind hard work or even long hikes if it was leading to something, but just to work up a sweat in order to just work up a sweat seemed very uninteresting.  However, just because it is not something to which I am drawn does not mean it is not something that should not be done.

Many studies are showing the benefits of good steady heart elevating and bone building exercise. Benefits include: increased stamina, lung capacity, mental health, emotional stability, cardiac development and much more. There is evidence that a steady exercise program can prolong productivity as we age in our physical flexibility and mental agility.

Other studies have shown that when children are physically active, they reduce the chance of obesity. Unfortunately, children often mirror what they see in their home.

Exercise is Key

Exercise is key to healthy living and to successfully reaching weight goals. Good eating choices, combined with a reasonable exercise program, will reduce weight, build muscle, and contribute to our cardiovascular and digestive systems functioning properly. Besides simply reaching a weight goal, we will actually be bringing our entire body in line with how God intended for it to function and will be a lifestyle change for many.

This change is not just so we can feel good and even less important that we fit some media image.

Three reasons why we should build physical fitness as part of our Christian lifestyle:

  1. Our bodies are not our own. God made them and they are on loan. As good stewards, we are responsible for how we care for what we were given. It is easy to become envious of others and think if we were given THAT package to care for, it would be easier. We must know that we can only care for that which God has given us.
  2. Everything about us tells others something about what we think is important. If we abuse or neglect our bodies, we are telling the watching world something about what we believe:  what we believe about the value of creation beginning with our bodies, what we believe about our willingness to care for even the small things and what we believe about the need to glorify our creator in everything.
  3. God thinks we are worth it. God sent his son to redeem, to “buy back,” that which was stolen by a cruel slave master – the author of sin and temptation. He invested in us and desires for us to live in all ways as children of the Most High.

”I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” [NIV} I Corinthians 9:27

The Apostle Paul is comparing his spiritual life to an athlete who is training for a great competition, describing a training regimen that may require pushing to a point that people would not do if they were not willing to pay the price for a great reward.

Getting started and staying with the program is difficult. Here are a few hints.

  • Be certain at what level of exercise you should begin. Consult with your physician, a professional trainer or a friend who is experienced in physical health.
  • Begin slowly with reachable goals. Perhaps you should just walk to the end of the block and back every other day for a week, and then increase in reasonable increments.
  • Have a partner. Maybe someone who is at the same place of exercise need and capability and will join you each time. Make an appointment. If you can’t find a partner, have someone that will join you in weekly accountability, such as your First Place weekly meeting.
  • Use the time for scripture memory and prayer. Use a recording of scripture or scripture songs. Focus on a different group of prayer needs each day so you will look forward to remembering those things that are near to your heart.
  • If you miss, don’t let another day go by and use this as an excuse. Missing a day is disruptive, but doesn’t have to derail the entire commitment.

It may seem that the little bit you can do at first is not worth even trying. When you think like that, it is time to realize that small beginnings with steady work can build great things. No effort is too small when it is just the start. It is worth sweating the small stuff.

Dr. Bill Heston
bheston@fpchouston.org

Bill Heston works on the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Houston