How Exercise Contributes To A Vibrant Spiritual Life

brain health exercise mental health spiritual growth Sep 22, 2021
As a Christian, I return again and again to the Gospel words of Jesus to find comfor

The formula of E.G.G.S. stands for Exercise, God, Goals, & Support. That is a formula that served me well over the years as I worked to heal from SSRI withdrawal and benzodiazepine withdrawal after quitting Paxil and Xanax, and it is an easy to remember formula that I think can help you to find increased healing and personal progress as well.

Oftentimes we complicate life for ourselves, so let’s take a moment to simplify: E.G.G.S. Exercise, God, Goals, Support.

In this post I am focusing on how the E portion of that equation interacts with the G portion of the equation. Exercise intertwines with God. In previous posts I’ve talked about the practical mind benefits of exercise such as how it helps us to reduce anxiety, solve problems, and think more creatively, and I would now like to focus on how it can be a crucial part of a strong spiritual life.

I was once asked in a podcast interview how I connect with God on a regular basis, and my answer didn’t involve sitting in church. Neither did it involve daily Scripture/devotional reading, although those things are obviously important.

When asked how I connect with God on a personal and regular level, my answer was twofold: writing and exercise.

Those two things are activities that allow me to break through the gray presence of “literal” that can make us feel half-alive at times. Those two activities help me to get in touch with and get excited about the “me” that God created as a unique, unreplicable individual, and they are things that help to inject a supernatural vibrancy into my days.

And what is a spiritual life if it doesn’t have a supernatural vibrancy to it?

What is a spiritual life if it doesn’t allow us to transcend our pain, our anxieties, and any dull or challenging surroundings we might be struggling with?



Exercise allows me to transcend, especially when I’m going for a long run outdoors. During mile six or eight of a run in the fresh air, I feel so unfettered and spiritual at times that I nearly begin shivering. I talk to God without even forming words, and I begin to see my life as perhaps He sees it—I forgive myself and love myself more. I celebrate the little victories in my life even more fervently, and I begin to see how infinitely meaningful my “little” existence is, even amongst the 7.5 billion other people on this planet and amongst the infinite expanses of galaxies that exist where we can barely imagine them.

As a Christian, I return again and again to the Gospel words of Jesus to find comfort and a roadmap for a productive and meaningful life. Jesus wasn’t really about formalities and religious rituals, instead he was about connecting with God on a very personal level. He was about inviting that Spirit into our hearts and minds in a way that might seem “outside the box” to the stuffed shirts that run the churches.

So exercise (again, running especially) is one “outside the box” way in which I walk and talk with God. And I believe that too many people miss the point when it comes to the purpose of exercise. Sure, it can help us to get a skinny waist or bigger biceps or give us that extra “motivational push” so that we can check off our weekly to-do lists without strangling somebody.

But I can tell you this: the purest purpose of exercise will never involve taking Instagram pictures in a gym. It will involve using it as a portal to the Divine.



My suggestion to you this New Year is this: Make exercise a nonnegotiable part of your every week, but do it in a spiritual way, too. Let it be a part of really feeling God’s presence in your life.

Here are a few quick bullet points toward that end:


1) Find some songs that really tug at your heart and soul and get lost in them during exercise. I’ve put everything from Jay Z to Foo Fighters to Dave Matthews to Aerosmith to Steely Dan on my MP3, but a few “offbeat” selections that really, really get me emotionally moved are fom artists like Yanni, Josh Groben, Nujabes, and tunes from theater works like Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera.

And here’s my current “offbeat” selection to add emotion and spiritual depth to your next workout: try playing Josh Groben’s version of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory next time you are on a nice walk or run or elliptical session—powerful.


2) Always make sure that cardio is a part of your exercise routine, even if you are into hitting the weights. For me, at least, weight lifting (although important) just doesn’t cross the blood/soul barrier like cardio does.


3) Get your exercise outdoors as much as possible. Living in Wisconsin, I know that the gym is a necessity during certain months, but don’t get trapped there amongst the TVs and HIIT classes and backpack bros and girls getting prepped for Instagram action. Instead, get outdoors and into the sunshine. Feel yourself (God’s creation) getting in touch with the rest of His creation. Feel the sun putting vibrancy and optimism into your system, and feel the fresh air giving you a new lease on life!


4) Don’t obsess over time or results when exercising. Goal-setting is great and necessary to move forward with exercise, but again, don’t only obsess over how fast you run a mile, how much you bench press, or how many pounds you lose. Get in touch with the spiritual side of what you are doing, and that will keep you coming back just as surely as anything else will!



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About the Author

Michael Priebe is a writer and wellness coach who has helped people from all over the world understand antidepressant withdrawal, benzodiazepine withdrawal, anxiety, stress, and healing. In coaching he has worked one-on-one with individuals from nearly twenty countries, and his Lovely Grind YouTube videos inspire thousands of viewers each month. He invites you to inquire about his coaching today to find the knowledge and inspiration needed to fuel your own wellness journey. 

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