Everyone who is interested in living a healthy lifestyle requires physical activity. Regular exercise should include three basic categories: cardio, resistance (weight training) and flexibility. When these activities are implemented into a regular lifestyle routine they provide the basis for five areas of personal development. Consider the following five areas of personal development as described by David B. Lewis, associate professor at Houghton College:

1. Physical Development. Physical activity is foundational to one’s own personal physical development. Muscular strength, size, tone and endurance are shaped through physical activity and exercise. Tendons and ligaments are strengthened and joint stability are increased through resistance training. Proper exercise increases flexibility, strengthens posture and assists metabolism. As muscles are toned and strengthened, sports performance and power tend to improve. Overall, regular exercise provides leaner body mass, health and physical fitness – all key to one’s physical development.
2. Mental Development.
There is much to be gained mentally from a quality exercise routine. You will learn about yourself – how your body functions and what it can handle. You will gain knowledge about exercise techniques and how they develop your muscles. Self-discipline is exercised as you commit to maintaining a regular program and as you push yourself to do one more repetition or set. You will analyze your progress, determine appropriate adjustments, and increase your ability to solve problems that emerge during a training session.
3. Social Development.
Exercise regiments can be done alone, with a partner or with groups. If working out in a facility with others, it provides an opportunity to interact, compare notes, encourage, share and care. As a shared activity it provides a common bond and can also produce a measure of needed accountability. Conversations may ensue to a deeper level as participants get to know one another, their life circumstances, families, etc. Just make sure that exercise is not replaced by excessive talk; maintain a healthy balance between the social and physical development so that everyone benefits from their exercise routine.
4. Emotional Development.
Exercise can prove beneficial as one releases stress and built-up tension. It provides a healthy release for anger and frustration in a socially acceptable manner. As one’s body begins to be re-shaped and toned, it enhances one’s self-image and increases self-esteem. The benefits of personal discipline, sacrifice and commitment can be carried over to other areas of one’s life so that these attributes are displayed at home, in the neighborhood, workplace and church.

5. Spiritual Development. Our physical, mental and emotional well-being can often influence our spiritual well-being; they are all mysteriously interwoven as people created in the image of God. As “jars of clay” (II Corinthians 4:7) filled with a priceless treasure and a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 6:19), let us do all that we can to offer to God “our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him – which is our spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Exercise routines can be tremendous occasions of fellowship with God. Exercise has some value, but is not an end-all. It is simply a tool to be wisely used. As Paul has written to Timothy: “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” (I Timothy 4:8).

To explore further about physical exercise, see the following resources:

“Physical Activity – it’s Important”

“The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise”

“Social Benefits of Exercise”

 “The Exercise Effect”

 “The Connection Between Faith & Health”

“Strengthen Your Faith Through Physical Exercise”

“Sports Ministry Obstacles – Exegesis of I Timothy 4:6-8”

 Physical contributor:  David B. Lewis, Associate Professor at Houghton College

Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus  

Curator of content: Dave Higle