Man working out

Exercise Addiction vs Fear of the Lord

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Hello, friends. Something a little different today. I have been reflecting on the way in which some people get addicted to exercise. I think that often the driving force behind working out is to make oneself strong. And don’t get me wrong, exercise is important for our physical and mental health and our sense of wellbeing. But I think there can be a downside to excessive exercise, which stems from a false motivation based on neglect of the teaching of Scripture.

When we come out of the gym after a good workout, we feel solid and pumped up. But I wonder how many people who devote themselves to this kind of exercise are motivated by fear? Is the thinking that if I work out enough, I will be strong enough to fight off anyone who might attack me? We should consider such motivations in light of Scripture. How many times is working out mentioned in the Bible, or the Qur’an? I would hazard a guess and say it’s very few. Why is this? Because for people of faith, our protection comes not from our physical strength, but from God Himself.

We need only consider the story of David and Goliath to understand that the person who is victorious in battle is the one who has God on his side, not the person who has put in the most reps at the gym. Also, I think it’s wise to recall the teaching of Jesus, that we should be meek and we should love our enemies; we should turn the other cheek in physical confrontation, not seek to overpower other people.

It can seem counter-cultural in our society to not care too much about our physical strength. It has become an obsession for so many. And by all means, go to the gym, go running, and play sports. But do so for the sake of enjoyment and health, not because it will necessarily protect you. Be mindful of the fact that your true strength comes from God — He is the one who fights our battles.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14


  1. Interesting concept, Steven. Personally I’ve never known a single person who began, or indeed continues, to exercise due to the need to feel strong/safety. But my sphere of influence has never been that large. Most people I know who start, it’s to lose weight and use self-control where they were severely lacking. I myself have engaged in an exercise routine in the past for such a reason, to lose weight and feel healthy. What ends up happening is that your body makes “feel good” hormones when you work out. Same feeling (only stronger) as when you eat chocolate. These endorphins give you a feeling of euphoria, though fleeting. It’s similar in extreme sports such as rock climbing (of which I used to do), bike riding, surfing, running, all that. Most people do it because it Feels Good. Of course there are always those who take it too far, making it an idol, just like one can with eating/gluttony. In the case you made, since I’ve never known anyone who began exercising to feel strong, I can’t really speak to that because I just don’t have the experience or personal knowledge. For me, I’d rather someone “overindulged” in exercise and health than in addiction to food (typically unnatural foods), alcohol (the soul-stealer), nicotine, screen-time, pornography, etc. But that’s my opinion.

    As always, you get my mind thinking!

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    1. Hey Tara! I think people exercise for many different reasons, but many (men especially!) do it to feel strong and safe. Just think of the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of this world — it would be hard to argue that many people want huge muscles for health reasons!

      Thanks for reading and engaging, Tara!


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