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Training Joy

The woman is running on the country road with her arms outstretched in joy.
Photo Credit: Keiferpix

(By Heather Marshall)

Did you know that the moment you lace up those walking or running shoes and start to move your body you are not only training your physical body but you are also training joy?

God, the giver of all good gifts, has given us many ways to experience joy, including watching the spring flowers emerge in your garden, receiving a warm hug, or listening to music. Physical movement is another way to encounter His joy. 

Research into physical exercise has shown that your body releases endorphins when you exercise. Endorphins are neurochemicals, or hormones, in the brain that are produced and stored in the brain's hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These feel-good hormones help to relieve pain, reduce stress, and increase an overall sense of well-being. 

Exercise also causes the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are chemicals that play a role in maintaining mood. These chemicals slow the release of cortisol, the hormone that is released when we’re under chronic stress, thus resulting in improved cognitive function and boosted mood. Click here for more details.

Isn’t it kind of God our Creator to give us such a tangible and accessible way to train joy?

As Christians, joy not only comes through engaging in exercise, but rather, our deep abiding joy is found in a person, Jesus. Amazingly, we have a unique opportunity that the world around us does not. When we combine physical training with worship for Him, our joy multiplies. 

The Holy Spirit can take our workouts from just being about training our physical bodies to growing our minds in the peace, love, and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul speaks about training of the mind, which results in joy. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

Essentially Jesus encapsulates all of these characteristics. He is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Centering our thoughts on Him will cause us to “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Engaging in exercise while we meditate on Jesus will result in unparalleled joy as we experience the mood-boosting benefits of exercise combined with a Christ-centered focus. Personally, some of my most joy-filled moments have come when I was out walking and meditating on Scripture while also enjoying God’s amazing creation. I remember having to throw my hands up in praise to God!

Exercise can seem intimidating at times. It does not need to be complicated though. What type of movement is appealing to you and makes you feel good? Here are some ideas: 

  • Go for a walk in nature while listening to Scripture, a Christian podcast, or worship music. 

  • Play a sport that you enjoy with the ones that you love and take time to pause and pray silently as you play, thanking God for the enjoyment of time with loved ones and for physical movement. 

  • Do some stretching with deep breaths as you incorporate breath prayer. Click here for more on breath prayer.

  • Engage in strength training or aerobics while playing Christian music; focus on the words of the music and worship as you move. 

Friends, let’s appreciate the gift of exercise and incorporate meditation and worship with our workouts. This will most definitely result in joy that’s like nothing the world can give. What a blessing!

I encourage you to start today by taking a walk or by moving in any way that feels good while enjoying the words of this joyful song “Where the Joy Is” by the Christian group We Are Messengers.

“Oh I wanna stay where the joy is

Oh, stand in the wonder of the fullness of Your goodness

My lungs filled up with the breath You give

In the sweet, sweet presence of God, I live

Oh, I wanna stay where the joy is, where the joy is.”


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