What Does the Bible Say About Exercise and Diet

Should Christians Exercise? What the Bible Really Says About Fitness

Obesity and chronic health conditions are on the rise in America, and Christians are not exempt. The surprising thing is that many don’t know what the Bible says when it comes to caring for our bodies.

As Christians, our physical and mental health should be just as important as our spiritual health. And while I may be a little biased on this topic, I do have to admit that I’ve spent a lot of time in my career trying to figure out just what exactly the Bible says in regards to our health and fitness.

What I’ve found, is that even though we live in a predominantly unhealthy world where sickness and disease persist, God calls us to steward our bodies wisely.

Stewardship in Christianity refers to doing all that we can with the resources God has given us. When it comes to stewarding our bodies, it means taking care of them to the best of our ability.

1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God.” Our bodies are gifts from God, so we should aim to care for them to the best of our ability.

If you’ve been unsure what scripture teaches regarding fitness, nutrition, rest, and holistic wellness, then keep reading. We’ll be going over each and why our physical health is a vital part of living a godly, fruitful life.

Let’s discover how to honor God through taking care of our bodies.

What Does the Bible Say About Exercise and Diet?

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Should Christians Exercise? What the Bible Really Says About Fitness

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Biblical Basis for Caring for Our Bodies

The Bible teaches us that our bodies are sacred and deserve care and respect, because as temples of the Holy spirit, our physical bodies house the very presence of God.

The apostle Paul declares, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

We are also “fearfully and wonderfully made” in God’s image (Psalm 139:14). This means that our human form reflects our Creator’s handiwork and intent.

We are that precious, that He counted every hair on our head before we were even born.

As the psalmist proclaims, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

Benefits of Exercise

So what does all of that have to do with exericse?

If we are to steward our bodies, one of the ways in which we can accomplish this is through regular exercise.

Exercise provides so many benefits for both our physical and mental health that it’s honestly shocking ot me more people don’t do it.

Here are some of the key ways that exercise improves our overall wellbeing:

at home workout program no equipment needed for weight loss
  • Improves physical health – Exercise strengthens the heart, lungs, and muscles. It improves cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and coordination. Regular physical activity can help prevent diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety – Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that lift your mood and make you feel more relaxed. Being active can help reduce tension, depression, and anxiety.
  • Boosts mental health – Along with improving mood, exercise can enhance cognitive function and memory. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, bringing more oxygen and nutrients. This stimulates the growth of brain cells and neural connections.
  • Increases energy – Moving your body regularly provides more energy throughout the day. Exercise improves sleep quality, giving you the energy boost needed to take on daily tasks.
  • Helps maintain healthy weight – Exercise, along with a balanced diet, is key for controlling weight. Physical activity burns calories and builds muscle mass, which raises your metabolism. This makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.

Making time for regular exercise provides a long list of health benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. God desires for us to care for the temple of our body through wise lifestyle choices.

How to Exercise Biblically

So is there a way to approach exercise and training our bodies in a Biblical way? Yes!

We can attack our physical movement with a motivated heart through thankfulness, worship, and again.. stewardship.

One thing to try and keep at the forefront of your mind is that it’s important not to let pride, vanity or comparison motivate us. Which is sometimes easier said than done when we live in a digital age full of social media highlight reels.

But we shouldn’t workout to compete with others or to glorify ourselves.

The motivation should be to become better stewards of the bodies God gave us, and can even be viewed as a way to spend time with the Lord.

Exercise can be an act of worship when we recognize our strength and abilities come from God, not when we are competing with someone else on social media.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bible promotes moderation and self-control in all things.

While regular exercise provides many benefits, we should be careful not to overdo it or let it become an idol in our lives.

Make sure to build in rest days and listen to your body’s limits, and make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks or pulling back when needed. God designed our bodies to require periods of both activity and deep rest.

When we care for our health with wisdom, it equips us to better love God and serve others. Our physical bodies are a gift, so we want to keep them healthy and energized.

But the most important muscles we need to train are our spiritual hearts.

Eating Biblically

This section is dedicated to me. Because food has been my enemy for as long as I can remember.

Growing up, I always had a love-hate relationship with food. I loved it, but hated the way I viewed my body, and the way I viewed my relationship with it.

I always had a horrible body image, and felt for many years that my life revolved around my weight, the scale, and my perceptions of both. I struggled with balance, discipline, willpower, and self-acceptance.

I bounced back and forth between starving myself, and then binging and purging throughout high school and some of college.

Then, when I was about nineteen years old, I suffered a trauma which left me in a pretty dark space mentally. I didn’t value my worth, and I suffered from anxiety and depression for a handful of years.

Anxiety and OCD were things I dealt with as a child, and they’re still something I deal with today. But at this point in my life, I turned to the one comfort that had always stood by me for as long as I could remember: food.

I began to binge eat, worse than ever before. I remember I would literally eat and eat and eat until my body would be in such physical pain that I couldn’t take it anymore. I would then go to bed and try to forget about how bad I felt, and when I woke up the next morning, I would begin the cycle over again.

I ended up gaining a lot of weight, and would get winded just walking around my college campus. It wasn’t until my early twenties, and after a pretty bad breakup that I recognized my habits were my coping mechanism. And, more so, I had shifted away from my faith and I was letting my circumstances determine my worth.

I decided I wanted to make a change.

I wasn’t sure how, but I knew I needed to try something different. The apartment I lived in had a community gym in the complex, so every day when I would get home from work or my classes I would walk to the gym.

In the beginning, I was only able to complete about five minutes on an old rickety elliptical, before I would have to get off and slowly walk back home. I did this every day until I worked myself up to 10 minutes, then 20, 30, and eventually a full hour. 

before and after weight loss from tracking macros

This was just the beginning.

I was losing weight, yes, but I was also gaining a sense of control over my life.

Instead of allowing myself to succumb to my depression and follow that same path of self-destruction, I was taking charge.

I started to learn more about the types of foods I was eating and began experimenting with cooking. I spent less time going through the drive thru lanes and more time in my kitchen learning which spices worked well when prepared with certain foods. 

Eventually I started praying more, reading the Bible, and turning to God to guide me through and out of my darkest moments.

Fast forward a decade (oh my goodness), and I’m now a mama to the most amazing little boy.

I’m certified in nutrition, as well as a certified personal trainer and behavior change specialist. I’ve lost a total of 75 pounds throughout my journey – even counting a pregnancy in there where I gained a very good chunk of it back – and couldn’t even begin to tell you the amount of muscle (and confidence) that I’ve gained.

I look at this body of mine – the same body that I used to feel so ashamed of, and instead I’ve learned to be so proud of what it’s been through and accomplished. I recognize myself for who God made me to be, and that’s pushed my confidence to new heights.

I’ve let food take up far more space in my brain and my life than I ever should have. And even though this is now what I do professionally, I will always be a work in progress when it comes to food. But I know my outlook is brighter with God on my side.

Remembering my younger self, and knowing how hopeless I felt at certain points of my life compared to the joy I feel now – is why I do what I do.

Understanding that my body has different wellness needs for my overall health, and that understanding my health and wellness is a priority, is a huge factor in my life – and it should be the same for you.

Healing my mindset to ultimately change my lifestyle for the better was a huge stepping stone for me, and it’s been my passion to share the things I’ve learned with other women so they can step out of the shadows and live the life they’ve always wanted, and the life God wants them to have.

The basics of what I teach are grounded in faith: God created us in His image, and He created us for more. It’s our right to be healthy and to feel good. God wants us to celebrate our health and wellness, and through everything.. to give thanks.

lose weight tracking macros

It’s important to remember that God desires for us to care for our bodies by making wise choices when it comes to what we eat.

While it doesn’t say in the bible that we can’t enjoy the foods we eat, it does call us to practice moderation and self-control (again, I need to bold this for myself).

One way we can honor God is by fueling our bodies with foods that provide true nourishment. And it’s also an act of love; when we prepare nourishing foods for our families and those we love.

Proverbs 23:2 cautions against overindulging simply to satisfy our appetites: “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” Practicing temperance in how much we eat is just as important as choosing healthy foods. (I hear you, me. I hear you).

When we sit down to eat, 1 Timothy 4:4-5 reminds us to receive our food with gratitude: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Thanking God for our daily provision cultivates both physical and spiritual health, and serves as a great reminder that nourishment and physical health is a way of honoring God.

Finally, 1 Corinthians 10:31 offers this guiding principle: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Making choices at mealtimes that honor our bodies honors the God who created us.

Spiritual Benefits of Exercise and Proper Nutrition

Caring for our bodies through healthy living and fitness helps us grow closer to God in many ways.

Regular exercise, nutritious eating, and allowing for rest strengthens our faith and allows us to better carry out God’s work in this world.

Exercise Can Deepen Our Connection with God

When we care for the bodies God has given us, we honor Him and draw nearer to His presence.

Exercising outside in nature, for example, connects us more deeply with God’s creation and divine design.

One of my absolute favorite forms of exercise is to go outside for a walk or a hike while listening to Christian music or a faith-based podcast. It’s often when I feel closest to God, and it’s often when I feel that things seem more clear.

As we strengthen our physical selves, we also strengthen our spiritual selves.

Exercise Can Strengthen Our Faith

Living according to biblical principles for health and wellness takes discipline and commitment. Following principles of health and wellness takes discipline as it is, but when we add in a Biblical aspect it amplifies it. But it also makes it that much more worth it, and more meaningful.

As we develop these habits, our faith muscles are flexed too. Saying “no” to unhealthy foods and “yes” to consistent workouts builds our willpower and conviction.

Overall, caring for our bodies demonstrates trust in God’s plan.

Exercise Can Increases Our Energy for Ministry

Good health maximizes our energy levels, alertness, and focus.

When we have vitality and stamina, we’re better equipped to serve God and others.

Whether it’s volunteering more hours or having the strength for extra prayer time, fitness enhances our capacity for ministry.

Exercise Can Allow Us to Better Serve Others

A healthy body and sharp mind empower us to help those in need.

Have you ever heard the saying that you can’t care for others if you first can’t take care of yourself?

It’s honestly true. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

We can give our time more generously when we’re not burdened by preventable illnesses or exhaustion.

A nutritious diet and active lifestyle keep us going physically and spiritually. Ultimately, good health allows us to share Christ’s love through acts of service.

How to Find a Holistic Balance

As Christians, we are called to glorify God with our bodies. This involves caring for our whole being – spirit, mind, and body – in a balanced way.

It’s easy to become obsessed with only one area of self-care while neglecting others. For example, someone may spend hours at the gym each day but very little time in God’s Word or prayer. Or someone may pour themselves into ministry but not take care of their physical health.

True balance means avoiding any extreme focus on one area at the expense of others. We need to steward our time and priorities wisely to nourish our spirit, refresh our mind, and care for our body.

So what does this look like? Practically, this can look like:

  • Setting aside time for spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, fasting, and corporate worship. Our relationship with God is the foundation for everything else.
  • Making time for rest, recreation, and relationships to refresh our minds and souls. God desires us to enjoy life too.
  • Eating nutritious whole foods, staying active, and getting enough sleep to properly care for our bodies. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we honor God by keeping our bodies healthy.
  • Being involved in ministry and serving others. We shouldn’t be so focused on ourselves that we neglect opportunities to love others.
  • Working hard with the gifts and talents God has given us. We bring glory to God by using our abilities for His purposes.

Maintaining balance requires an ongoing process of evaluating priorities, making adjustments, and seeking God’s wisdom for each season of life.

The goal is to live in a way that brings honor to God by developing our whole being – body, mind and spirit.

Scriptures On Fitness

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” – Genesis 1:29 NIV

Caring for our bodies through biblical fitness principles allows us to honor God, serve others effectively, and enjoy the abundant life He intends for us.

As we close, commit to taking one step this week toward improving your physical wellness. Start with prayer and ask God for guidance.

Then make a practical change to your typical exercise or nutrition routines.

If you feel you need a little guidance on getting started in your health and fitness journey, I’d love to help!

You will experience the joy and energy that comes from stewarding your body well. May God bless you on your fitness journey!

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