Okay, maybe not. When someone says they workout, what comes to mind about their ambitions or goals? In my mind, the first thing is that they want to look good to the opposite sex. And, while that may be true to some extent for everyone who works out, it is not the ultimate goal for some of us. I am going to go over the main reasons why I workout, and while looking good is on my list, it is much further down my list than it was even a few years ago.
1) Ability to Play with my Kids – My joints are far from perfect. Ever since high school, my knees have hurt and ached regularly disallowing me to move normally. This has never been more evident than in playing with my kids. When getting up and down from the floor causes me to move in unnatural ways and find something to pull up on, it means I need to do something. I love playing with my kids. I love getting in the floor and roughhousing. I love running around the house or outside with them. And I know that if I keep playing with my kids and showing them how to play, they will take that and expect to play that way for a very long while, instead of looking at me sitting on the couch saying “Daddy’s too tired” or watching me playing a video game or on the iPad. And I am fine with those things from time to time, but they should know that when you really want to play and have fun, it typically constitutes active play, not passive. And the best place to learn that is from their parents.
2) Long Term Health – As I said before, I have had joint issues since I was a teenager and have never really recovered. And if those joint issues are bad now, in my early 30’s and before, then they are only going to get worse if I don’t make changes. It’s so interesting to go to the supplements store or health store and talk about supplements and health with the workers at the store. Most of the time, these workers are older, and they are shocked that someone my age is actually looking at this. And the line that I typically get is, “I wish I had been interested in this when I was your age”. And I’m glad that I am interested in my long term health and hope that it allows me to see my children grow up, and their children as well. With the widespread prevalence of so many chronic diseases that are treatable, it is even more now than ever, a priority to stay healthy and pay attention to how you treat your body so that it will last a very long time. When I look at other cultures and the health they maintain compared to looking around in America, it means that we weren’t meant to spend our golden years in nursing homes or at doctor’s visits, but instead were meant to share our knowledge with those around us, and enjoy our time here.
3) My Body is a Temple –
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I dont’ know that I need to expand on this, but I will give my two cents anyway. Our bodies were given to us by God, and within us dwells the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we should glorify God with the way we treat our bodies. How we maintain it through input and activity can make a huge difference in the effectiveness and length of our ministry. One overlooked thing in the Bible that most people don’t want to talk about is gluttony. In the south, when there is a big church event, there is always a potluck that is dominated by comfort food and most people end up with multiple plates, eating until they are in pain. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that is not glorifying to God. God wants us to have fellowship as a church, and to enjoy the food he has allowed us to make through his creation, but eating until you can’t button your pants, or eating food-like-substances on the fellowship hall table does not qualify. We are meant to be set apart from the rest of the world, and this is another example of a way that we can distinguish ourselves from everyone else, through the way we eat and what we do with our bodies.
4) Protection for myself and my family – I never thought about protection until I had a family. I was just like most kids who simply thought about myself. But as soon as you get married, and especially when you bring kids into your life, you start realizing that the world is not a safe place, at least not the world we live in. So you have to start thinking about what would happen if worse came to worse and someone tried to hurt your family. You can buy guns and security systems, and live in safe neighborhoods, but if you are out on a date, even in a nice part of town, and you happen to be around the wrong person at the wrong time, all you have is your physicality. So, you have to strengthen yourself in order to provide for and protect your family in any way possible. I have thought many times about doing some sort of martial arts to help with this one, and it is on my list of things to do, but I haven’t gotten there yet. But protecting my family is a big deal, and doing some sort of training/working out can make all the difference in a confrontation.
5) Looking Good for my Wife – This one is probably up higher for most people as it is all about looking good for the opposite sex, but my wife and I have been together long enough to where this isn’t at the top since we’ve made a vow to each other for life no matter how we look, and we plan to do just that. But that being said, I still want to be wanted by my wife, and even though looks aren’t near as important for women as they are for men, it is still high enough on the list to make me try harder. My wife is a very loving person and she wouldn’t comment on my looks if she knew that I was at all self-conscious, but when I look through her eyes, I want to be able to see someone that she feels lucky to have, instead of someone who has gone downhill since we got married. I don’t care about what other women think, though it always feels good to be admired, but if my wife looks at me in a way that says “You look good!” or admires me when I take off my shirt, my pride shoots through the roof!
6) Feeling Good about Myself – Again, some people would put this higher up the list, but for me, I think this is a perfect spot. I don’t have major self-esteem issues and have never been heavy, but I do feel better and more confident in all parts of my life if I am in shape and really paying attention to how I treat my body. When you sit down in a meeting with a new client and you are self-conscious of your spare tire, do you think that helps or hurts your chances with that client? When you are comparing yourself to everyone else, which we all do to an extent, you can feel good about the way you look and the way you handle yourself compared to your peers who are struggling with so many health issues. Again, for many people who have more body issues, this would be much higher on the list with reason, but for me, this is a bit further down, but still definitely on my list.
7) Be Better at Sports and Activities – I love playing basketball, and other sports as well, but basketball is my love. Competing in a sport is something that gets my blood pumping and makes me feel good, even if I am not very good at it. I’ll talk about the evolution of sports in a future post, but for now, I simply want to acknowledge that the better shape I am in, the better chance I have to do well in sports instead of being restricted by my aches, pains, and lack of muscles. I play basketball once a week, both for exercise, as well as for the actual act of playing ball. I get to play with some guys that I enjoy being around, and the sport itself has been something I have loved ever since I was young. So seeing progress in my vertical or the speed of running down court on a fast break makes me feel good, especially when it is noticed by my peers to show that I can compete. So, when I am doing squats at my next workout, I need to remember that this is for my vertical and will help me rebound better the next time around.
We all have different goals and thoughts about working out, but I would wager that many of these that I have listed also fit into your goals as well. Sports may be first on your list, and kids couldn’t be farther from the top of your list, but either way, think about why you are working out, and try to focus on what will accomplish those goals in the long-term.
I know this is a long article, so I have broken it up into a part two of HOW I workout to accomplish these things. It won’t be nearly as long, I don’t think, but keep an eye open for the second part: The Case for Long Term Health Through Working Out – Part 2 – How I Workout.
What are your reasons for working out?