Why Exercise Matters to Adventists

Throughout their history, Seventh-day Adventists have upheld the importance of healthy living. This focus on whole-person wellness logically includes exercise, so many Adventists strive to be intentional about staying active.

But that doesn’t mean Adventists believe a person must have an exercise program or walk a certain amount of steps per day to experience the saving love of Christ. Rather, we believe that healthful living can help us be good stewards of the bodies and minds God gave us.

On that note, let’s take a look at what Adventists specifically have to say about the importance of exercise. We’ll learn about:

Let’s start with looking at Scripture.

What the Bible says about Exercise

When it comes to the principle of staying active, the Bible actually has quite a bit to offer us.

God intended for us to treat our bodies as sacred vessels to carry out His work here on earth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), while at the same time enjoying our lives to the fullest (Proverbs 17:22; Matthew 6:25-34; John 10:10). Looking at health from a holistic and faith-based perspective, Adventists see exercise as a way to support both of those endeavors.

A big part of an active, fulfilling life involves keeping up with our daily tasks and livelihood. God modeled this early on when He guided Adam in tending the Garden of Eden.

God created human bodies to move, so He engaged him in physical activity by assigning him to care for His Creation. This gave Adam a sense of duty toward a greater calling.

“The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” (Genesis 2:15 (CSB))

As we can see, God prefers purposeful physical activity over idleness.

Throughout Scripture, we can find many places that talk about being busy with our hands and feet to do intentional and attentive work. There are mentions of skilled craftsmen (Proverbs 22:29), warriors in training (Jeremiah 50:9; 2 Samuel 22:35), runners (2 Samuel 18:24-27; Jeremiah 12:5), and many other active jobs that kept people busy and fit.

Wood carved by carpenter as we study how Jesus Himself worked with His hands as a carpenter and gave us example to be active.Jesus himself worked with His hands as a carpenter.

It’s true, we don’t see any mentions of exercise programs or gyms in the Bible. But that’s because back then, most jobs and tasks of daily life were already active. And staying active meant you were being productive.

That’s why there are verses like Proverbs 13:4 that point out how the “soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (ESV).

God made sure His Scriptures teach us the value of doing good work. To use our minds, hands and feet skillfully, it helps to be physically strong and mentally focused, with an attitude of commitment and dedication to the purpose at hand.

Exercise in the biblical sense, then, often served a higher purpose for the spirit and for those in the community. By making it a habit to stay active, the result would likely be a disciplined and healthy life. And that might be the most important takeaway right there.

Seventh-day Adventist counsel on Exercise

Adventists view exercise both in a practical sense, and through a faith-based lens. As mentioned earlier, we do our best to take care of the body God has given us so we can be in optimal shape for serving Him, and to care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.

In the early days of Adventism, believers were studying how to best apply the truths of Scripture to our everyday lives. Ellen White, a key founder of the Adventist denomination, wrote many times about the benefits of staying active and maintaining health through exercise.

Here are some excerpts from her writings, which offered practical health advice relevant to common habits or misconceptions of her day:

Woman jogging outdoors as we learn the importance and benefits of walking and jogging as good and practical exercise.Concerns about the lack of exercise:

  • “Continued inactivity is one of the greatest causes of debility of the body and feebleness of mind” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p.524)
  • “The blood is not enabled to expel the impurities as it would if active circulation were induced by exercise” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p.529)
  • “Idleness enfeebles the mind, debases the soul, and perverts the understanding” (Signs of the Times, Nov. 12, 1885, par. 3)

On useful labor:

  • “If work is performed without the heart’s being in it, it is simply drudgery, and the benefit which should result from the exercise is not gained” (Healthful Living, p. 129)
  • “Brethren, when you take time to cultivate your gardens, thus gaining the exercise needed to keep the system in good working order, you are just as much doing the work of God as in holding meetings” (Gospel Workers p. 174)

Promoting walking as good, practical exercise:

  • “No exercise can take the place of walking. By it, the circulation of the blood is greatly improved. … Walking, in all cases where it is possible, is the best remedy for diseased bodies, because in this exercise all of the organs of the body are brought into use” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p.78)
  • “For those who can walk, walking is preferable to riding [horses]. The muscles and veins are enabled better to perform their work. There will be increased vitality, which is so necessary to health. The lungs will have needful action; for it is impossible to go out in the bracing air of a winter’s morning without inflating the lungs” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p.529)

Tips for timing/scheduling of exercise:

  • “Exercise will aid the work of digestion. To walk out after a meal, hold the head erect, put back the shoulders, and exercise moderately, will be a great benefit. The mind will be diverted from self to the beauties of nature. The less attention is called to the stomach after a meal, the better” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 530)
  • Neither study nor [vigorous] exercise should be engaged in immediately after a full meal …. Immediately after eating there is a strong draught upon the nervous energy. The brain force is called into active exercise to assist the stomach; therefore, when the mind or body is taxed heavily after eating, the process of digestion is hindered. The vitality of the system, which is needed to carry on the work in one direction, is called away and set to work in another” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 413)

Tidbits of recent research from Adventist health professionals

Human brain model as we learn how mental health is improved from regular exercise and happy hormones are balanced in the body.While the above statements from Ellen White were given over a century ago, they are still in agreement with current scientific findings. Adventists in the field of health care continue to find more and more ways to apply these timeless health principles to our lives today.

One area of health that is especially important is mental health. Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, our mental health is strengthened as well. In fact, something as small and simple as taking a brisk walk each day can even help stave off deteriorating mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.1

There are two stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and four “happy hormones” (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) in our bodies. Regular exercise balances these hormones, which helps relieve depression and anxiety symptoms.2

While there is no replacement for professional mental health treatment in many cases, it’s helpful to remember that there are natural ways to combat stress, increase circulation, lower anxiety and boost your mood. Adventist doctor and speaker Neil Nedley, MD, also talks about exercise’s role in mental health in his renowned Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program.

That exhilaration you feel after running, climbing, or any activity that expends significant energy through movement comes from your body releasing those hormones.

In addition to elevating your mood, this effect also promotes better sleep and reduces overall inflammation in the body.3

And when we feel better, we also think better. According to David DeRose, MD, years of research have shown that consistent exercise promotes the maintenance of cognitive function as we age. A lot of this has to do with how exercise strengthens our cardiovascular system and increases circulation, which has a trickle-down effect to every single system of the body.4

Adventists collectively seek to promote this kind of helpful information so we can better enjoy the lives God gave us, and so we can share it with a sick, hurting world through mission work.

That is why the Adventist Church maintains numerous health and lifestyle programs and initiatives, many of which focus on exercise.

Adventist Ministries and Programs that support an active lifestyle

Group of men and women following instructor on exercise instruction as we learn about some of the Adventist health programs.The founders of the Adventist church were pioneers in the promotion of whole-person care from way back in the 1800s.

Eventually, hospitals, sanitariums, clinics, medical schools and other health-related institutions were established for the benefit of not just Adventists but for everyone around the world.

In addition, exercise and health programs have been created throughout the years to help anyone looking to improve their overall health.

Some Adventist health programs that include exercise are:

  1. InStepForLife: Social step-tracking walking initiative.
  2. CHIP health: Complete Health Improvement Program.
  3. Fitness for Life: Employee and spouse wellness promotion program.
  4. CREATION Life: Anyone can apply these principles and approaches to gradually improve their health in all aspects, including physical activity.
  5. NEWSTART lifestyle program: A whole-person focus for complete health, which includes getting outside and getting active.

There are also many local health programs and initiatives happening at Adventist hospitals, conference offices and churches around the world.

Staying active sums up so much of what the Adventist message is all about. We want to remain active in the bodies God gave us, so we can be active believers and disciples for Jesus Christ and actively enjoy the abundant life He makes possible for us.

Want to learn more about Adventists and healthy living?

  1. Wes Youngberg, MD, Fighting Cognitive Decline and Alzheimers https://www.interamerica.org/2019/07/fighting-cognitive-decline-and-alzheimers/ []
  2. Working out boosts brain health, American Psychological Association https://www.apa.org/topics/exercise-fitness/stress []
  3. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions, NIH National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688585/ []
  4. David DeRose, MD, “The Methuselah Factor,” explaining how increasing blood flow and microcirculation increases longevity and vitality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV7PiqoXKyQ []

Questions about Adventists? Ask here!

Find answers to your questions about Seventh-day Adventists

More Answers

Trust in God: The Key to Health You May Be Missing

Trust in God: The Key to Health You May Be Missing

Trust in God: The Key to Health You May Be Missing Who can we trust? The desire to trust is hardwired in us from our earliest years. Ideally, our parents will have built a foundation of trust through their care for us. But unfortunately, human beings break trust. It...

Why You Need Fresh Air

Why You Need Fresh Air

Why You Need Fresh Air“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” the American Lung Association tells us. We couldn’t agree more! Breathing in clean air is an essential part of caring for our bodies, which God has given us. Together with other health principles,...

What the Bible says about Self-Control (and some practical tips)

What the Bible says about Self-Control (and some practical tips)

What The Bible Says About Self-Control (And Some Practical Tips) Self-control is defined as the ability to control one’s thoughts, impulses, actions, and desires. And human nature being what it is, this can be a daily struggle. Fortunately the Bible offers us wisdom...

Bible Promises for a Worry Free Life

Bible Promises for a Worry Free Life

Bible Promises for a Worry Free LifeWith all the negativity and worrying we can get into in our thoughts, God has not left us without hope. In His Word, He’s promised to help us enjoy a peaceful and fearless life. Whatever your concerns may be, He has promises just...

How to Challenge Anxious Thoughts

How to Challenge Anxious Thoughts

How to Challenge Anxious ThoughtsIn many cases, we worry over things that never actually happen, or our worries are triggered by very harmless situations. This post will show you how you can take time to think rationally through things that worry us. Then we can see...

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry and Fear

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry and Fear

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry and Fear Though worry and fear are mental states, there’s so much we can do in terms of daily habits to deal with it. Habits that influence our mental state. This post will walk you through 12 habits that will help you avoid or...

The 5 Mindsets to Help You Overcome Worry and Fear

The 5 Mindsets to Help You Overcome Worry and Fear

What the Bible Says about Worry and Fear and How to Overcome ThemWorry and fear is a state of mind, and a product of our thoughts and imagination. Having the right mindsets and attitudes toward threatening circumstances is invaluable in dealing with worry. In this...

How to Deal with Worry and Fear

How to Deal with Worry and Fear

How to Deal with Worry and Fear Worry and fear are the ingredients of anxiety. It’s easy to see how the many ways the world isn’t perfect—and the anticipation of a bad event or experience, which may or may not happen, can end up draining peace and enjoyment from...

What Does the Bible Say About Grief and How Do We Overcome Grief?

What Does the Bible Say About Grief and How Do We Overcome Grief?

What the Bible Says About Grief—and how to find hope Grief is an unfortunate part of the human experience. We all come into contact with it one way or another. However, through the Bible, we can find verses, knowledge, and support for ourselves and our loved ones who...

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is Important

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is Important

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is ImportantWe live in a fast-paced world. It seems as if success is measured in how much you can do in a short amount of time. (Extra points for the service or product that is available 24/7). The idea that we will be more successful if we...

How do Adventists choose what to eat?

How do Adventists choose what to eat?

How Do Adventists Choose What to Eat? Every day, parents go through the ritual of getting their kids to eat what is healthy and good while trying to steer them away from what can hinder the growth of their developing bodies. Nutritionists work with their clients to...

How do Adventists make movie and music choices?

How do Adventists make movie and music choices?

How do Adventists make movie and music choices? Cinema has come a long way since the first clips of motion pictures came to light in 1878. As the decades rolled on, film and music producers have created rivers of movies and albums for the masses. Today, watching...

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?The diet intended for man is outlined in Genesis 1:29: “And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food’”...

Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!

We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This