Lesson 38: Physical Health

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 146–48


Each young woman will recognize her responsibility to maintain her physical health so that she can fulfill her earthly mission.


  1. 1.

    Bring paper and a pencil for each young woman.

  2. 2.

    Prepare a tray containing an alarm clock, a pair of athletic shoes, fruit, grain (or a grain product such as cereal or bread), a small amount of meat, and soap.

  3. 3.

    With the approval of your bishop or priesthood leader, arrange well in advance to have a young mother with a healthy new baby participate in your lesson. (See the second section of the lesson.)

  4. 4.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development

The Scriptures Give Instructions about the Care of Our Physical Bodies

Chalkboard and scripture game

Refer to the tray of items and explain that these will be used in a scripture game. Write “Item,” “Scripture,” and “Instruction” across the top of the chalkboard. Write the first scriptural reference on the chalkboard under the heading “Scripture,” and ask the young women to read the scripture silently. Ask them to decide which item on the tray the scripture refers to. As they find the answer, call on one class member to write the name of that item under the heading “Item” and to write the message of the scripture under the heading “Instruction.” Use the six scriptures in the sequence listed.

When you have completed the exercise, your chalkboard may look like this:





D&C 38:42

Be clean (inside as well as outside)


D&C 88:124

Retire and rise early


D&C 89:11

In season


D&C 89:12



D&C 89:14

Staff of life


D&C 89:20

Run and not be weary

  • Why do you think Heavenly Father has given us these instructions?

Scripture and thought questions

Have class members read 1 Corinthians 3:16–17.

  • How does it make you feel to know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God may dwell in you?

  • How well are you taking care of your temple?

Teacher presentation

Explain that physical fitness affects all aspects of our lives. If we are to manage our lives efficiently, our bodies must be able to meet all the demands placed upon them. To be tired all the time and have difficulty meeting pressures is an obstacle to our success. Physical fitness improves mental concentration and alertness; it relieves tension and anxiety. Some educators believe that students are more alert and attentive when they are in good physical condition and that they learn better. Employers have recognized that an employee’s effectiveness is related to physical health. Our physical condition also affects our capacity to respond to others positively. We each may have some physical weaknesses that cannot be entirely overcome, but most of us could be more fit than we are.

Explain that there are at least three areas in which we should develop healthy habits. We should get proper exercise, get proper rest, and eat a well-balanced diet. Review the following information with the young women.

  1. 1.

    Regular exercise provides many benefits to our bodies. Following is a summary of how exercise affects the body systems:

    Exercise strengthens the muscles. Stronger muscles provide better support for the skeletal system. Strong, firm muscles hold the bones of the body in their proper position, decreasing the stress and damage that can result from bad posture. Back pain and stiffness may be largely due to inactivity. Furthermore, with proper posture of the spine, the head, arms, and legs can move more easily. Proper exercise keeps the entire body limber. Muscles and joints that are seldom used tend to be stiff and inflexible. Adequate activity also helps maintain bone strength. Starting at about age twenty, the bones begin to weaken. Regular exercise can help stop this decline and prevent the brittleness and fragility of bones that often accompanies old age.

    Exercise affects the metabolism. Exercise strengthens our bodies and helps them function more efficiently. Exercise uses up calories, usually without causing an increase in appetite. Many people who exercise find that they eat less than those who do not. Exercise and moderation of eating habits can work well together to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

    Exercise improves the nerves. Vigorous exercise improves overall coordination. It also releases nervous tension and stimulates and clears the mind. Many people use a period of daily exercise to plan the day, to gain a fresh perspective on life, or simply to relax. Physical exercise tires the muscles and releases tension and so helps most people sleep better.

    • What do you do for exercise? How could you make exercise a more regular part of your life?

  2. 2.

    The body needs to be relaxed and rejuvenated after work, stress, and exercise. This can take the form of sleep, rest, or participation in a relaxing activity.

    Everyone should have a period of rest or relaxation each day when possible. Short naps, reading, listening to music, studying scriptures, or pursuing hobbies or crafts can rejuvenate the body and spirit.

    The need for sleep may vary among family members according to their health, ages, and personalities. Each person should try to get enough sleep each night. The body responds best if a person goes to sleep and wakes up at approximately the same times each day.

  3. 3.

    It is important for each person to eat a well-balanced diet. The body doesn’t function properly if any necessary nutrients are absent. Good health depends largely on the kinds of foods we eat.

    Most countries have developed a system of food groups based upon the food patterns used within their country. Foods from each of these groups should be eaten every day. If your country has a good food grouping system, use it in place of the one that follows.

    Foods for building bodies: meat, legumes, fish, poultry, eggs, milk.

    Foods for protecting against disease: fruits and vegetables.

    Foods for building energy: cereal grains and their products, such as bread, rice, or noodles.

    By eating foods regularly from each of these food groups, we greatly improve the likelihood of enjoying good health.

    Ask the young women to think about the food they ate yesterday.

    • Did you eat foods from each of the food groups? How could you make your diet more well-balanced?


“When our appetites control us, when we neglect to keep our bodies and minds in the best possible condition, we may not be literally breaking the Word of Wisdom, but we are neglecting a sacred trust that the Lord has given to us when he gave us our marvelous bodies” (Lindsay R. Curtis, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1975, p. 21).

Taking Care of Our Physical Health Will Bless Ourselves and Our Posterity


Invite the mother and child to the front of the classroom. Introduce them and read the following quotation:

“Womanhood should be intelligent and pure, because it is the living life-fountain from which flows the stream of humanity. She who would pollute that stream by tobacco, poisonous drugs, or germs that would shackle the unborn is untrue to her sex and an enemy to the strength and perpetuity of the race” (David O. McKay, “These Two Together,” Improvement Era, May 1969, p. 2).

Ask the young mother to discuss briefly the importance of properly caring for her own health and the health of her child. She may include the following points:

  1. 1.

    The benefits of proper health practices before having children (possibly emphasizing the Word of Wisdom, proper nutrition, rest, and exercise).

  2. 2.

    The benefits of good health practices during pregnancy (including following a doctor’s counsel and taking no harmful drugs).

  3. 3.

    How knowledge of good health rules has been and will be beneficial to her child.

You may wish to have a brief question-and-answer period at the conclusion of the presentation.


Teacher testimony

Testify that our Heavenly Father expects each of us to take proper care of our physical bodies so we can each achieve our missions on earth.

Lesson Application

Suggest that the class members eat proper foods, get the proper amount of rest and exercise, and avoid anything that would be harmful to the body or mind.

Suggested Activities

  1. 1.

    With the approval of your priesthood leader, invite special guests to conduct a weekday information seminar on any of the following subjects:

    • Good nutrition

    • Proper exercise

    • Harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or other substances

    • Any other subject related to good health practices that would benefit your class

  2. 2.

    Plan a physical fitness and exercise activity for your class.

  3. 3.

    Demonstrate good health practices for children. (This may be especially helpful for young women who have younger brothers and sisters or who care for other children.)