As a pastor, you take on much of your flock’s burdens which add to your ever-increasing stress. In one day, you might go from the bedside of a dying church member to performing a funeral. Then return the next day to offer counseling for a member who’s depressed or suicidal while preparing an uplifting sermon for Sunday. How does the giver of hope release their own burdens and keep their health vibrant and strong? One way is to enhance your health with exercise.
We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know it is also medicine for our bodies?
God made our bodies to move during the day and to rest soundly at night. With modern inventions such as cars and the Internet, our sedentary lifestyle is becoming the new smoking with our health paying the price. We must actively seek ways to keep our bodies in shape.
The following benefits of exercise are proven in research:
- Boosts the immune system by increasing B and T killer cells
- Reduces and helps to manage stress
- Relieves insomnia and depression
- Reduces risks of blood clots
- Prevents cancer
- Prevents heart disease
- Prevents Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases
- Lowers inflammation
- Increases nutrient and oxygen delivery to your cells and brain
- Removes toxins through sweat
- Lowers insulin levels
- Lowers blood pressure
- Stimulates your lymphatic system to remove trash from your body
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Burns off excess weight
- Enhances every body system
- Increases longevity
That’s a lot of bang for no cost at all.
This is a bargain no pastor can afford to ignore. These benefits had me at reduces stress. As a counselor in the school system for 32 years, I had many burdens that I carried for numerous students and families. After my father died from Alzheimer’s disease, my mother from cancer, my father-in-law from heart disease, and my mother-in-law from cancer and osteoporosis, these health benefits also had me at preventing these diseases.
According to Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy,
“For every thirty minutes of exercise, you neutralize twelve hours of accumulated stress in your body.”
This is a free prescription every pastor needs to take advantage of. In addition, Dr. Daniel Amen says,
“You can add seven years to your life by taking a brief walk 25 minutes per day.”
The day I was diagnosed with cancer, my husband and I took a long walk to relieve the stress after praying together.
Recent research from the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) reveals that exercise not only prevents cancer, but also is one of the best things a cancer patient can do. At one time, cancer patients were advised to limit their physical activity especially after chemotherapy. Associate Professor Prue Cormie of COSA claims the study is based in indisputable research and said, “If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, it should be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”
So what’s good for the cancer patient is good for all—even pastors.
“I can’t afford to exercise” is no excuse. No pastor can afford not to with the burdens you carry. According to wellness expert, Matt Riemann, “Regular exercise turns on thousands of genes that change your gene expressions in healthy ways.” Movement allows us to glorify God in our bodies as we turn on those healthy gene expressions and allow this natural medicine to enhance our health. Exercise will keep your health vibrant and your ministry alive!
Ginny Dent Brant is a counselor, educator, speaker, and wellness advocate. Her recent book, “Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer,” was written with an oncologist and won a Golden Scrolls Award. Cancer prevention blog at www.ginnybrant.com.