Exercise is not just for the mind – it’s for the spirit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2011

The news of Jack LaLanne’s death at the age of 96 brought back childhood memories of his early morning television program. Described as a Fitness Guru, LaLanne’s workout show aired from the 1950s to the 1970s.

I remember watching him exercise and encouraging everyone to exercise along with him as he counted push-ups and jumping jacks. According to a news story about his life, LaLanne developed exercises requiring no special equipment, just a chair and towel.

“The only way you can hurt your body is not to use it. Inactivity is the killer,” LaLanne once said. He believed it was never too late to start exercising.  Commenting on his daily routine of weight-lifting and swimming, he called it a lifestyle he had determined to do for the rest of his life.

When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on a television show.  At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

A couple of months ago, I happened to see a TV program featuring Dr. Oz talking about living a healthy lifestyle. He told his audience about five numbers that could save a person’s life.

Dr. Oz said the first number you should know is your blood pressure – an ideal number is 115 over 75. The second number to know is your waist size, a number he said should be half your height. Your weight is a third important number and Dr. Oz recommends weighing yourself once a week.

The fourth number on his list of numbers that could save your life is your cholesterol.  Your HDL cholesterol should be greater than 50 and LDL under 100. Your fasting blood sugar, the fifth number you need to know, should be less than 100, per Dr. Oz’s advice.

Reading about the need for physical fitness and annual check-ups started me wondering about  a spiritual check-up. The C.S. Lewis Institute has published an “Annual Spiritual Check-up” based on Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Too often, in the busyness of our day-to-day lives, we let other priorities crowd out the two highest priorities Jesus gave us,” the check-up reads.  Then, there’s a list of questions for self-examination that cover various aspects of living the Christian life.

Here are just a few of them.  Am I growing in my desire to obey and please God?  Do I obey out of gratitude for God’s love?  Or from guilt or fear?  Do I thank God every day for His love, grace and mercy? Am I treating others with the same grace God has shown me?

Is there anyone among my family, friends, neighbors or co-workers that I refuse to forgive?  Am I focusing part of my time and money to help the poor and disadvantaged?  Am I teaching my children about the importance of helping the poor?

The Apostle Paul instructed that we should examine ourselves in regards to our faith. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “A man’s spiritual health is exactly in proportion to his love for God.” Have you had your spiritual check-up?  Go to http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/files/webfm/Annual_Spiritual_Checkup.pdf to consider how you’re exercising your faith.