Evangelical Gnostics and the Mind-improving Nature of Physical Exercise

Evangelical Gnostics and the Mind-improving Nature of Physical Exercise December 1, 2011

This snippet from the NYT Well blog should encourage you to get whatever exercise you can in these winter months:

To learn more about how exercise affects the brain, scientists in Ireland recently asked a group of sedentary male college students to take part in a memory test followed by strenuous exercise.

First, the young men watched a rapid-fire lineup of photos with the faces and names of strangers. After a break, they tried to recall the names they had just seen as the photos again zipped across a computer screen.

Afterward, half of the students rode a stationary bicycle, at an increasingly strenuous pace, until they were exhausted. The others sat quietly for 30 minutes. Then both groups took the brain-teaser test again.

Notably, the exercised volunteers performed significantly better on the memory test than they had on their first try, while the volunteers who had rested did not improve.

Want to do better in school?  Remember more things?  Memorize more Scripture?  Remember that you’re not a brain in a vat, but a holistic person created by God to glorify him in both body and mind–or perhaps the fusion of the two.  It’s remarkable how much care for your body affects your overall life performance.  A story from The Atlantic a few months back suggested that careful attention to diet and exercise may play a potentially major role in warding off and defeating disease and bodily illness.  For more on this point, see Matthew Anderson’s helpful Earthen Vessels.

Evangelical gnostics, take note.  Many of us, I’m guessing, could use less snacking, less sugar, and more attention to our health, not because we’re scared of dying, but because we want to steward what the Lord has given us for the glory of his Son.

(Image: Adam Weiss for Getty Images)

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