Lesson 24: Keeping Physically Healthy

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 177–83


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand why it is so important to keep our bodies physically healthy.

Introduction

One reason we came to earth was to gain physical bodies. President Brigham Young declared, “Our mortal bodies are all important to us; without them we never can be glorified in the eternities that will be” (Discourses of Brigham Young [1954], 56).

Although our bodies will be glorified in eternity (see Alma 11:42–44), in this life they suffer from sickness, disease, pain, and injury. Some are temporarily handicapped. Others are crippled for life. But whatever their condition, our bodies are important to us because they help us progress toward perfection.

Man is both a spiritual and physical being; the physical and spiritual cannot be separated. Our spirits cannot reach their full potential without the support and strength of the body (see D&C 93:33–34). We should develop ourselves spiritually and intellectually, but also remember to develop ourselves physically.

President David O. McKay stated: “The healthy man, who takes care of his physical being, has strength and vitality; his temple is a fit place for his spirit to reside. … It is necessary, therefore, to care for our physical bodies, and to observe the laws of physical health and happiness” (“The ‘Whole’ Man,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1952, 221).

The Benefits of Health

The following are some of the benefits of having a healthy body:

We Are Able to Serve Better

The healthier we are, the more capable we are of serving others and bringing happiness to them and ourselves.

We Are Better Leaders

Because leaders need strength and energy to fulfill their callings, they need to be as healthy as possible.

We Feel Better about Ourselves and Others

When we keep our bodies healthy, we feel good about ourselves and have enthusiasm for our work. We also have more patience, love, and kindness for others.

We Are Able to Provide for Ourselves and Our Families

The healthier our bodies are, the better able we are to work and thus provide for ourselves and our families.

Maintaining Physical Health

Many health problems result from unclean living conditions, disease, excess weight, poor diet, fatigue, and lack of exercise. Regardless of where we live, we may be affected by these health problems. To prevent or solve these health problems, we must first realize what our personal health problems are. Once we have learned this, we can develop programs suited to our schedules which will help us to maintain healthy bodies. A local health center may have helpful information on setting up a health program.

Our personal and family health program should include the following:

Obedience to the Word of Wisdom

The Lord has told us that there are certain substances we should not take into our bodies. These include tobacco, coffee, tea, alcohol, drugs, and certain foods. On the other hand, He has suggested some foods and drinks we should use to maintain good healthy bodies. Those who keep the Word of Wisdom are promised health, wisdom, and protection (see D&C 89:18–21).

The following story illustrates some of the blessings that come from obeying the Word of Wisdom.

“I wasn’t quite 12 years old, but I worked right alongside my father in the grain harvest over 60 years ago. He cut and I bundled the grain into [bundles]; it was exhausting labor, day after day.

“One Saturday, we began [working] at daylight and stopped about 8:30 that night. I was so tired I wanted to lie down and sleep without even waiting for supper.

“My father looked at me and said gently, ‘Lee, the patch of grain I cut today was very green. If we wait until Monday to [bundle] it, the kernels will be shrunken. We must do it tonight. There’s a bright moon outside. Do you think you can help me?’

“I fought back the tears and nodded.

“My father said, ‘Okay, we’ll have a bite of supper. …’

“We soon finished our bread and milk, but I was still so tired that I could hardly raise my head. As my father went out to feed the pigs, I sat at the table, thinking bitterly, ‘I’ve never smoked or drank; I’ve always obeyed the Word of Wisdom. The Doctrine and Covenants says that if you obey the Word of Wisdom you will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. And now I’m so tired I can hardly raise my head.’ My mouth twitched as I fought to keep back the tears of exhaustion.

“It is impossible to describe what happened, but it seemed as though a beautiful shaft of white light entered my body, filling every fiber of my being. I got up when Father came back, and we went out to the fields.

“My father was a very fast worker, but he couldn’t keep up with me that night, even though he worked as fast as he could. I ran for stray bundles, and tossed them, many heavier than I was, from [row to row]. I’ll never forget the astonishment in my father’s eyes” (Leo W. Spencer, “To Run and Not Be Weary,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 45).

Work

Work is a blessing. It not only enables us to provide for the needs and health of our families, but it also keeps our bodies and minds active and alert. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 and Psalm 128:2–3.)

Sufficient Rest

Some people do not sleep long enough to obtain the proper rest. Other people sleep longer than is needed. The Lord has cautioned us to get the sleep we need, but no more than we need. We are all different and must rest according to our needs, but He has told us to go to bed early and to arise early so that both body and mind may be invigorated. (See D&C 88:124.)

Personal Cleanliness

To prevent sickness, we should bathe, brush our teeth, and wash our hands regularly. We should also regularly wash our clothes, bedding, and dishes.

Sickness and disease can be prevented by eliminating germs. We can eliminate germs by keeping insects and animals out of the home and by disposing of animal and human waste. For the same reason, food should be stored in a clean, safe place.

Proper Diet

A proper diet consists of a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day. We need meats and animal products, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and grains and starchy roots. (For more information see The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, lesson 22: “Nutrition for the Family.”)

Medical and Dental Care

We can protect ourselves and our families from some diseases by getting immunizations and having regular medical checkups. In most parts of the world, immunizations are given by health clinics or physicians. We should also have a dentist check our teeth regularly.

Physical Exercise and Recreation

  • Show visuals 24-a, “Regular physical exercise is necessary for good health,” and 24-b, “Exercise is an excellent family project.”

In addition to a proper diet, regular physical exercise is necessary for a healthy body. Exercise is something that can be enjoyed both individually and as a family. One benefit of an exercise program for recreation is the opportunity it provides us to be with our families. Each family member will not only be better motivated to exercise, but will also feel closer to the other members of the family.

One excellent exercise almost everyone can do is running. We can run nearly anywhere, at almost any time. Running in place and walking are also good exercises. Basketball, soccer, handball, swimming, bicycling, and other sports can provide both exercise and recreation.

Before beginning any vigorous exercise program, we should get a physical examination. Obtaining and following a doctor’s advice about our exercise program will prevent us from doing things that would harm us instead of help us.

Conclusion

Balance is essential to a healthy life. This means we must strive to achieve balance in work, rest, and recreation. President Brigham Young counseled:

“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 … prepare for a better life. Let us teach these principles to our children, that … they may be taught to lay the foundation of health and strength” (Discourses of Brigham Young [1954], 186).

The Church needs priesthood holders who have prepared themselves spiritually, intellectually, and physically. Good health helps us be effective in our many responsibilities.

Challenges

Survey your personal health problems.

Develop a personal and family physical fitness program.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapters 27, “Work and Personal Responsibility,” and 29 “The Lord’s Law of Health.”

  2. 2.

    Assign a class member to give a five-minute report on the contents of the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:1–17).

  3. 3.

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