Observing the Laws of Physical Health

The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150, (2004), 55–60


Introduction

The Apostle Paul taught that our bodies are temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16–17), but many people think and act otherwise. Living the Lord’s law of health brings untold blessings. Help your students understand how they can maintain and improve their health in a variety of ways. Examining healthful practices as well as the effects of harmful substances helps fortify our resolve to treat our bodies with reverence and respect.

Principles to Understand

  • Good health habits are important in living the gospel.

  • The Word of Wisdom is an important part of the Lord’s law of health.

  • Proper diet, rest, and exercise provide significant health benefits.

  • We must avoid substances and practices that are harmful to our bodies and minds.

Teaching Suggestions

Good health habits are important in living the gospel.

Display a few pictures of temples and discuss some of the beautiful features of the buildings and their grounds. You may want to have students write their responses to the following questions in the “Notes and Impressions” section of their student manual:

  • What and whom do these buildings represent?

  • Why are they so well cared for?

  • In what way does the care of these buildings help those who attend feel the Spirit?

Have a student read 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Ask: In what ways can our bodies be compared to temples?

Read with students the statement from President Thomas S. Monson on page 83 in the student manual.

Ask: Why is it important to balance both physical and spiritual needs?

Invite students to share examples of health problems we cannot control. Share the following counsel from Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a former heart surgeon:

“For reasons usually unknown, some people are born with physical limitations. Specific parts of the body may be abnormal. Regulatory systems may be out of balance. And all of our bodies are subject to disease and death. Nevertheless, the gift of a physical body is priceless. Without it, we cannot attain a fulness of joy [see D&C 138:17].

“A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. Great spiritual strength is often developed by those with physical challenges precisely because they are challenged. Such individuals are entitled to all the blessings that God has in store for His faithful and obedient children [see Abraham 3:25–26].

“Eventually the time will come when each ‘spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame’ [Alma 11:43; see also Alma 40:23; Ecclesiastes 12:7; D&C 138:17]. Then, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfected in Him.

“How should these truths influence our personal behavior? …

“We will regard our body as a temple of our very own [see 1 Corinthians 3:16]. We will not let it be desecrated or defaced in any way. We will control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 112–13; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 86–87).

Ask:

  • How can physical challenges help us develop spiritual strength?

  • How can lack of concern for our physical health affect our potential?

  • In what ways have good health habits helped you fulfill your daily responsibilities?

The Word of Wisdom is an important part of the Lord’s law of health.

Write Word of Wisdom on the board and have the students tell what the phrase means to them.

Ask: Why do you think the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom? (see D&C 89:4).

Make three columns on the board. Write one of the following words at the top of each column: warnings, recommendations, and promises. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:4–9. Have them list on the board the warnings the Lord has given us, what He recommended for us, and the promises the Word of Wisdom offers.

To emphasize physical blessings of keeping the Word of Wisdom, share this first part of a story related by President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency:

“When I was the president of the Cottonwood stake, one of our stake patriarchs was Dr. Creed Haymond. … As a young man he was the captain of the University of Pennsylvania track team. In 1919 Brother Haymond and his team were invited to participate in the annual Inter-Collegiate Association track meet. The night before the track meet, his coach … instructed his team members to drink some sherry wine. In those days, coaches wrongly felt that wine was a tonic for muscles hardened through rigorous training. All the other team members took the sherry, but Brother Haymond refused because his parents had taught him the Word of Wisdom. Brother Haymond became very anxious because he did not like to be disobedient to his coach. He was to compete against the fastest men in the world. What if he made a poor showing the next day? How could he face his coach?”

Ask: If you were Brother Haymond’s friend, what would you counsel him to do?

President Faust continued:

“The next day at the track meet the rest of the team members were very ill and performed poorly or were even too sick to run. Brother Haymond, however, felt well and won the 100- and 220-yard dashes. His coach told him, ‘You just ran the two hundred and twenty yards in the fastest time it has ever been run by any human being.’ That night and for the rest of his life, Creed Haymond was grateful for his simple faith in keeping the Word of Wisdom” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 59–60; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 44–45).

Ask:

  • Would you view his decision to not partake of the wine any differently if he had done poorly and his team members had done well? Why, or why not?

  • Do we always see the positive results of our proper choices soon after we make them?

  • What part does faith play in keeping commandments such as the Word of Wisdom?

Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21 and list the blessings possible by living the Word of Wisdom and keeping the commandments. Discuss each blessing, as appropriate.

Proper diet, rest, and exercise provide significant health benefits.

Share the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and have students identify what he said we must do to stay healthy:

“The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. A good physical examination periodically is a safeguard and may spot problems that can be remedied. Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 91–92; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 66).

Ask:

  • Why would people be more capable of serving the Lord if they received sufficient rest?

  • What spiritual benefits are there to wholesome recreation?

Prepare the following survey for each student:

Using a scale of 1 through 5, with 5 being the highest, rank yourself on each of the following statements:

  1. _ 1.

    My diet includes fruits, vegetables, and grains.

  2. _ 2.

    I exercise regularly.

  3. _ 3.

    I get adequate sleep most nights.

  4. _ 4.

    I am informed concerning common diseases and the cures that are available when needed.

  5. _ 5.

    I avoid practices and substances that are bad for my body and mind.

  6. _ 6.

    I strive to keep myself, my family, and my home clean and orderly.

After the students have completed the survey, have them discuss how improving performance on each item could affect their health. Encourage them to set reasonable goals that could improve their health and to record these goals in the “Notes and Impressions” section of their student manual.

Ask: In what way does exercise help us control our weight and maintain good health?

Briefly remind students that exercise burns calories; helps us control our weight and reduce our blood pressure; strengthens muscles; reduces stress, tension, and fatigue; increases energy; and increases our mental and emotional well-being.

Read the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The body needs the rejuvenation that comes from exercise. Walking in the fresh air can be exhilarating and refreshing. Properly directed, running can have some beneficial effects. Simple sit-ups or sporting activity can be helpful” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 479).

Encourage students who do not exercise regularly to select an exercise that they could do over the next few months. Explain that they should set reasonable goals. They may even wish to share their goals with each other or work on them together. Making a chart to record their progress is also helpful. Another idea to help them stay motivated is to get a partner with whom to exercise.

We must avoid substances and practices that are harmful to our bodies and minds.

Ask students: How would you respond if you were a parent who had a child who said to you, “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it”?

Write the following equation on the board: Drugs = Addiction = Misery. Ask:

  • Why will drug addiction not lead to happiness?

  • How does improper drug use affect what people can accomplish with their lives?

Share the following counsel from Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“I am thinking of a young husband and father who is participating in drug abuse. He stands to lose family, employment, personal pride, and his own life. His cries of ‘I’m hooked’ tug at the soul. The use of cocaine and other drugs causes those involved to become totally chained to their addiction. Those who peddle drugs not only provide chains for others, but shackle themselves with the weights of unrighteousness as well. To those not involved, avoid drugs in any form with all of your might. To those involved, seek help to remove the chains that will drag you down and smother you. Drugs are not a ‘quick fix.’ They are a quick exit through a door which too often swings only one way—toward heartache and self-destruction.

“Believe me when I tell you that some of the saddest sights I have ever witnessed in my life are people living with drug addiction. They are prisoners within their own bodies. Many feel totally helpless, dependent, and desperate. But none should feel hopeless. Lift those chains and fight back for personal dignity, peace, and purpose. Anyone who tells you drug use is the ‘fun’ way is a liar” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 15).

Ask:

  • What would you say to a person who said that his drug addiction only hurts himself?

  • How can a drug addiction destroy a person’s family?

  • What are some steps a person can take to become free from an addiction?

Have half of the class read President Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement on page 86 in the student manual and the other half read Elder Boyd K. Packer’s statement on pages 86–87 in the student manual. Have each group teach the other group what they learned from their statement.

Suggested Student Assignments

  • Have students monitor their eating habits for a week and determine if they are eating well-balanced meals.

  • Invite students to begin an exercise program if they do not already have one.