Lesson 24: Maintaining Good Physical Health

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 208–12


The purpose of this lesson is to teach us how to maintain good health and prevent illness.

Introduction

The Lord expects us to understand how to keep our bodies as healthy as possible so we can accomplish our goals and help build His kingdom.

Causes of Illness

  • What causes illness?

Many years ago people did not know what caused illness. Some believed sickness came because they failed to make proper sacrifices. Others thought it was caused by spells cast by enemies. However, scientists and physicians have learned what causes most health problems, and in the last century especially, many new discoveries have been made to help us maintain good health.

Today we know that most illnesses are caused by germs. Germs are very small organisms that live all around us. They are so small that the eye cannot see them. Some germs are carried through the air; others pass from one person to another; still others pass from animals and insects to people. Human and animal body wastes, especially those from diseased humans or animals, contain many harmful germs that can cause serious illnesses.

Preventing the Spread of Germs

If we want to eliminate illnesses, we need to eliminate the germs that cause them. The following are ways we can reduce or eliminate illness-causing germs:

  • Clean our home regularly, especially places where germs could live. Prevent insects and animals from getting inside our homes.

  • Protect food from insects and animals by keeping it properly covered. Where possible, refrigerate perishable foods.

  • Wash foods carefully to remove as many germs as possible.

  • Properly dispose of human and animal wastes, since insects and rodents are attracted to them.

  • Wash our hands before eating, after using the toilet, after changing soiled diapers, and so on.

  • Brush our teeth after each meal.

  • Always cover our mouth when sneezing or coughing.

  • Wear shoes, sandals, or other foot coverings.

  • Eat properly and rest. Eating proper foods and getting enough rest can help us avoid or overcome illness. Germs are less able to infect a healthy body.

As we maintain good health, we will prevent or eliminate many illnesses. We will also be examples to our children, helping them develop good health habits.

  • Discuss good health-care practices for infants, older children, and pregnant women.

Protecting Our Health

Health professionals instruct us that, in addition to developing and practicing good health habits, we should protect ourselves from certain illnesses with immunizations. When we are immunized we usually receive an injection of medicine. For some illnesses we need only one injection; for others we may need several injections of the same medication at different time intervals.

In most parts of the world we can receive immunizations from health clinics or doctors. We can be immunized for such diseases as rubeola (measles), mumps, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), typhoid fever, smallpox, polio, influenza, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, pneumonia, and varicella (chicken pox).

In addition to immunizations, medicines in the form of liquids or pills have been developed to help prevent and cure illnesses. These should be used carefully according to directions from qualified medical professionals. We should not take medication that has expired or has been prescribed for someone else.

Another good way to prevent illness is to have an annual physical examination by a doctor or other health specialist. Early symptoms of illness can be detected in these regular examinations.

  • Discuss where to find the nearest health facilities and what immunizations are available locally.

What to Do When Illness Occurs

If serious illness occurs, the best medical help is usually available from a doctor or other health professional. We should not only seek their help when ill, but we should also let them train us in good health practices.

Unfortunately, some people believe that it shows a lack of faith in the Lord to visit a doctor. The Lord expects us to use faith and the power of the priesthood when sick, but He also expects us to use available medical knowledge and services.

Before Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he had severe health problems. Wanting to have the best health possible, he consulted with a doctor. The doctor told him that he had to have a delicate surgical operation for a heart problem. President Kimball put great faith and trust in his doctors and underwent the operation.

On the day President Kimball was ordained and set apart as the President of the Church, he received a letter from Dr. Russell Nelson about his health. Dr. Nelson knew that President Kimball would have questions concerning his health, so in his letter he pointed out that the careful physical examination President Kimball had recently undergone indicated his body was again in excellent health. The letter stated, “Your surgeon wants you to know that your body is strong; that your heart is better than it has been for years; and that by all of our finite ability to predict, you may consider this new assignment without undue anxiety about your health.” …

Dr. Nelson’s letter continued: “In the performance of that critical operation … , I was keenly aware of your apostolic calling, and of my own human frailties, in anticipating one of the most risky and complex operations ever done. This operation turned out to be technically perfect in every detail, and I acknowledge gratefully the help of the Lord. … Most special of all was the fact that, as the operation was nearly completed, it was made known to me that one day you would become the President of the Church.” (See Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball Jr., Spencer W. Kimball [1977], 8.)

We also can enjoy the best possible health if we know the symptoms of illness and receive the proper care when we are ill. If properly diagnosed early, many illnesses can be treated successfully.

  • What symptoms indicate a need to see a medical expert? (Mention each of the following symptoms, and discuss them one at a time: unexplained bleeding and other unusual bodily discharges, sores that do not heal, persistent coughs or labored breathing, long-lasting or high fever, chills, difficulty in passing body wastes, dark spots or a rash on the skin, unexplained weight loss, prolonged serious pain, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, fainting spells or seizures, blurred or changed vision, serious burns or burns over a large portion of the body, soreness or swelling, unconsciousness, or other unusual changes in one’s body or its ability to function normally.)

When any of these symptoms afflicts us or others, we should contact a health professional or health clinic immediately. Waiting to get proper medical care can result in severe disabilities, long periods of illness, or even death.

Conclusion

Healthy bodies help us meet the demands of life. Parents must keep themselves healthy and use wisdom and good judgment in caring for their children and teaching them good health practices.

Many resources have been provided so we can maintain good health. The Lord expects us to use these resources to prevent and cure illnesses that afflict us and others. This requires that we use modern medical practices and exercise faith, prayer, and the power of the priesthood. If we do these things, and it is God’s will, the sick can be healed.

President Brigham Young taught: “Then let us seek to extend the present life to the uttermost, by observing every law of health, and by properly balancing labor, study, rest, and recreation, and thus prepare for a better life. Let us teach these principles to our children” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 186).

Challenge

Have all your family members immunized if possible. Practice and teach your children good health practices. Survey your living situations, and clean up any germ-infested areas.

Additional Scripture

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Contact a local health clinic or health worker. Find out about the following:

    1. a.

      Good health-care practices for infants, older children, and pregnant women.

    2. b.

      Medical facilities in your area.

    3. c.

      Immunizations available locally and how they can be obtained.

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.