Part of living a sound Christian life is keeping your body active and healthy. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by things that make us unhealthy: fattening foods, sedentary jobs, and technology everywhere we look. Keeping your body moving, even for only a few moments each day, has countless health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, even going for a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can keep your heart working in tip-top shape.
As Christians, we are called to be agents of good in every area of our lives, and that includes taking care of our health. Unfortunately, statistics show we’re not doing a great job. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of our country is obese. But by making simple choices and striving to move, we can achieve a healthy lifestyle that honors God.
Start with Walking
Even the longest journeys begin with a first step, so make yours with walking. Why walking? First of all, it’s easy to do, even for those with low fitness levels. Second of all, it’s free! Why pay for a gym membership when you can get the same benefits in the great outdoors? Lastly, it’s fun. You can incorporate your walks in a new area of town, taking in the scenery and enjoying God’s works everywhere you look.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more steps into your day, start with these suggestions:
Instead of hiring someone to do your housework, do it yourself.
- Work in the garden or mow your lawn. The combination of fresh air and exercise will leave you feeling relaxed and positive.
- If you live near a corner store, walk or ride your bike the next time you need to run an errand.
- When talking on the phone, walk or stand instead of sitting. The more you make a conscious effort to move in the beginning, the more natural it will become.
- The next time you drive to the grocery store, pick a space further away from the door. You might be surprised how quickly those extra steps add up.
- Take your dog for a walk – you’ll both appreciate the outcome.
- At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Instead of emailing a coworker, walk to his or her office.
- Plan family outings that include physical activity, such as hiking to a picnic spot.
- If you enjoy golf, walk instead of renting a cart.
- Turn on your favorite music and dance!
Treat Exercise Like an Important Appointment
It’s easy to blow off exercise sessions because you have other obligations – work is pressing, you have a doctor’s appointment, there’s not enough time in the day. But if you treat exercise like a daily appointment, it will be easier for you to establish a habit. Mark it on your office calendar and treat it as you would a meeting with your boss or colleague. You wouldn’t blow off an appointment with them, so why would you with yourself?
If you’re having trouble squeezing exercise into you’re day, blocking off an “appointment” can be helpful. See if your company offers a corporate membership plan and try to squeeze in a session during your lunch break or go before or after work. To avoid peak hours, schedule your hours a little earlier or a little later. If you commit to making it work, your body will thank you.
Find Indoor Options
If you live in an area where exercising outdoors year-round isn’t an option, then brainstorm ways to get exercise when weather is less than ideal. For example, taking a walk in the mall, completing a fitness video, or using exercise equipment at the gym are all great options. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, sign up for a fitness class led by an instructor. Chances are, you’ll make new friends and begin to enjoy your weekly sessions.
Hold Yourself Accountable
While technology often makes us more sedentary, you’ll find there are ways to make it work for you. The trend of wearable technology is growing, and many companies, like Garmin and Fitbit, make activity trackers to help you stay on track. Set a steps goal and check your progress throughout the day to monitor your pace. Download the app and compete in challenges with friends or just send one another motivational messages and encouragement throughout the day.
Use Your Music
Music can be a powerful motivator, so use it to your advantage. For example, matching your music’s beats per minute to your rate of perceived exertion can help you achieve your fitness goals. Music apps like Spotify have these capabilities built-in and can recommend music based on your speed and goals. Another example of technology working for an active lifestyle!
Set Achievable Goals
If you’ve been a couch potato for some time, don’t sign up for a half marathon. Dip your toes in and commit to a Fun Run, which is usually 2 miles or less. As you progress in your activity, you may feel comfortable signing up for a 5k or more. Don’t expect instant results, as this can be discouraging. Remember, even small steps can help you achieve health benefits.
Use the Power of Social Media
If you’re the type of person who’s always checking the latest on Facebook or Instagram, use this to your advantage. Share your progress with your social media networks and drink up their encouragement. This does more than just amp up your motivation and accountability; it might even inspire your friends to get moving, too. Call on them to go for walks with you or try out a new fitness class.
Lastly, realize that good health is a journey, not a destination. By making a commitment to your health, you’re agreeing to continually make good choices. You may achieve your initial fitness goal, and that’s a good thing! When you do, set another. You don’t need to be an elite athlete, but making the conscious effort to move each day will provide the health benefits you need to live a long, positive life in God’s image.