This One Thing Changed My Relationship with Exercise Forever

Photo by on Unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash

This week, I’m talking about something a little bit different. Though this isn’t a health blog, being healthy is part of having a vibrant life. The life, if you read my blog, I believe you are longing for. So today I’m diving in to an important piece of the health puzzle: Exercise.

I know exercise is not something we always want to do (at least I don’t) and just the word might even bring up some negative feelings like guilt or embarrassment. But if we really want to live life to the fullest, it’s important to address all aspects of self-care: spirit, body, and soul.

So before you decide you’d rather be scrolling through the latest news about the Royals than reading about exercise, hang with me.

I’m going share something that caused a seismic shift in how I view exercise, as well as some not-necessarily-biological benefits of healthy activity.

You with me?

Ok, here we go. :)

The image that propelled me into action

Though I exercise regularly, that wasn’t always the case. Even though I believed exercise was important, up until my early 20s, I would go through periods where I exercised consistently and others times when I would do it sporadically. I’m not naturally athletic and I’ve never enjoyed mandated movement (the only movement I naturally love is gentle walking through nature), so it’s always been a bit of a struggle.

Then I read something that completely changed my perspective on activity.

In his article Stir the Water, Dr. Don Colbert compares our bodies to ponds. Yes, ponds. He asks readers to imagine a pond with no water running through it. Over time, it develops scum and toxins and starts looking pretty yucky.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ Psalm 145_5 (ESV)(2).png

Now envision a pond with water flowing in and flowing out, stirred, perhaps, by a gentle stream. This pond, because it is being continually cleansed by the movement of the water, is clean, clear, and scum free.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ Psalm 145_5 (ESV)(1).png

Dr. Colbert then points out that our bodies are made of about 70% water. (You might guess where this is going.)

When we exercise, it gets the water in our body flowing. Like a stream through a pond, it helps clean out the gunk that would otherwise build up and eventually cause problems.

I don’t know if the mental picture of that scummy water hits you as strongly as it did 23-year-old me, but by the time I finished the article, I was determined not to be an algae-infested pond.

Any excuses I had to not exercise were instantly swept away by the power of the pond imagery. Whenever I was tempted to skip my workout, I thought of that pond. Then I thought of my body. I would think, Do I want be a clean pond or a scummy pond?  Some magical exercising switch was flipped in me the day I read that article, and I’ve followed a consistent exercise routine since then.


It’s not just about having a clean body

If the pond analogy isn’t enough to get you moving, it may help to know there are a myriad of benefits to exercise, including preventing heart disease, reducing stress, helping maintain healthy weight, improving mood, improving sleep, increasing energy, and slowing aging, to name just a few.

Aside from health benefits, I’ve discovered a few other excellent perks to exercise.

  • One is that is really gets my creativity flowing. So often I’ll get ideas for writing or other aspects of my life while moving. (There is actually scientific evidence for this.)
  • Another benefit, surprisingly, is spiritual growth. One thing I like to do, especially in the winter when I don’t get outside as much, is listen to praise music while I exercise. I have had so many wonderful encounters with the Lord while plugging away on the treadmill, sweaty tears streaming down my face. Who knew something so practical could be so powerful?
  • A third benefit I've found is that exercise can build social connection. In the summer, my mom, who lives nearby, and I walk around our neighborhood together. It has done a lot to develop our friendship as mother and daughter. I also like to go for walks with my husband or my friends whenever they are up for it.
  • Finally, exercise is a great way to enjoy God’s creation. There is so much beauty around us, and now is the perfect time to get out and savor the sights and sounds of summer. (As a plus, savoring has been shown to improve happiness and boost your immune system!)

A final thought

Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. My primary exercise is walking, as well as some stair climbing (which I do on my actual stairs, ha). More recently, I’ve been working in some basic strength training by doing pushups, squats, and sit ups. Pilates is another great option for a gentle, relaxing way to increase strength and flexibility. You can a find lots of great introductory Pilates videos on YouTube.

Of course, there are tons of other ways you can get more activity in, like riding your bike, mowing the lawn, or playing on the playground with your kids (swings are for grown ups too!).

And exercise doesn’t have to be hugely time consuming. You can benefit from even 10 or 15 minutes of movement a day.

You’ll have cleaner, healthy, happier body, and you might just grow spiritually, creatively, and relationally too.


With love,


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"I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 3 John 1:2 NIV

Your turn

Have you struggled to motivate yourself to exercise on a regular basis? Or have you found creative ways to motivate yourself? Have you found any unexpected benefits? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Colbert, Don. "Stir the Water." Enjoying Everyday Life, January 2008, 19-20.


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