In a world of sitting and watching, the video below reminds me that we were really made to move. If you have a few minutes, take a look. You’ll be glad you did. Then, if you have a few more minutes, let’s talk.
What interests me about this video is the effect exercise has on one’s spirit. According to Dr. Mike, physical exercise can, in some cases, alleviate depression and anxiety. This data corroborates what the Bible already teaches, namely, that the body and soul are linked.
In Proverbs 17:22, we read “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” The principle is clear: Our spirit can effect our body. So anxiety can lead to ulcers. Anger can lead to high blood pressure. Stress can lead to tension headaches, and so forth.
But this video also reminds us that the inverse of the biblical principle is true. How we treat our bodies may affect our spirits. Too little sleep may contribute to our grumpiness. Too little food may incline us to anger. And no exercise may depress our mood.
Pastor and scholar John Piper admits as much. In an article about why he exercises, Piper very honestly writes:
“Underneath most of my besetting sins is despondency. I am less prone to such melancholy when I hammer my body [with exercise] three times a week. The reason could be endorphins. Could be ego. Whichever, it’s cheaper than Prozac or psychotherapy. I’m simply happier. And I sleep better. I have more energy.”
It seems no one is above this body-soul connection.
So, in light of this discussion, let me make a really practical application. This winter, when the days are short and the weather is cold, when we’re so prone to mope around the house, if you’re feeling down or anxious or stressed, consider this principle and take a holistic approach to your mood. Yes, read your Bible and pray. Trust God with your mood. But consider also that God made you a spiritual and physical being, and therefore, avail yourself of the resources He’s already given you: sleep, food, exercise, etc. Go to bed on time. Eat a good breakfast. Go for a walk.
Will it fix everything? No. But you really will feel better.
(For more on this body-spirit connection, check out this excellent sermon by Timothy Keller entitled “The Wounded Spirit“)