What percentage of the United States do you think has been on a diet at one time or another? Or an exercise kick of some sort? According to one study, over 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, so it’s no wonder diet books and gym memberships and equipment are everywhere these days.
That can’t be much of a surprise when another study indicates that 70 percent of Americans do NOT exercise regularly. Don’t worry; this column is not going to try and guilt you into going for a walk … though it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
In our house we’ve had several different treadmills and exercise bikes through the years that have spent more time gathering dust and holding clothes waiting to either be hung up or thrown in the hamper, while we – I – procrastinate. Come on … you know you’ve done it, too, haven’t you?
Would you believe that the diet and fitness industries combine for over $10,000,000,000 in annual sales? That’s ten BILLION – with a b! If less than a third of us are exercising regularly, who’s buying all of those ab rollers, elliptical machines and home gyms advertised on television? One is called “The Rack.” That just sounds painful to me.
We all know we should eat better and exercise more. We go through times when we “hunker down” and do it for a while. We do some push-ups or some sit-ups, hoping to lessen the unsightly bulge around the solar plexus. Then the busy-ness of life takes over and we return to our older, more established habits.
In a similar way, we often neglect regular exercise for our inner man (or woman). Most people know church is a good thing for them. A life of faith is seldom seen as a negative. In fact, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years back, “a growing body of scientific evidence shows that Americans who attend religious services at least once a week enjoy better-than-average health and lower rates of illness, including depression.” Other benefits noted in such studies include longer life expectancy, lower blood pressure and children less likely to end up divorced or impoverished.
Just like the obvious health benefits of a balanced diet (I used to think that meant four Chips Ahoy cookies in each hand) and regular exercise, regular attendance and participation in a house of faith – a church family – is good for us. In the Yellow Pages for Clarendon County, over 150 churches are listed. I wonder how many of them have room for you to attend this Sunday?
If we know physical exercise and spiritual exercise are both good for us, I guess the best case scenario would be to find a church within walking distance. But even if you don’t want to “glisten” (sweat) in your Sunday best, find a place to stretch those faith muscles this coming Sunday. It’s good for you.
Editor’s note: Larry Ambrose is the pastor of Manning First Assembly of God Church.