Summer months are nearly upon us, and with these months come travel and scheduled vacations. And vacations are gifts from the Lord.
There tend to be two approaches to exercise while on vacation:
- No exercise — I’m on vacation!
- More exercise — I’m on vacation!
Regardless of which camp you fall into, the responsibility to steward our bodies does not stop while on vacation. Vacations can be an immense opportunity to improve your body stewardship if used wisely.
Here are 5 tactics to make the most of exercise while on your summer vacation.
1. Exercise and “Play” Outside
Summer months bring warmer weather, which invites outdoor activity. And this outdoor activity is desperately necessary. Over 80% of US jobs are predominantly sedentary, and a break from these jobs while on vacation allows workers to spend that time actively outdoors.
Take advantage of outdoor recreational activities while on vacation. Hike to a new destination. Bike with your kids. Kayak with your spouse. Swim with the family. Go for long walks in the morning. Watch a sunrise.
God created your body to interact with the outdoors. Your body naturally creates Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which can help fight diseases, reduce depression, and support weight loss. Our lungs benefit from cleaner and fresher outdoor air. Being outside regularly also has a positive impact on our brain health.
Historically it was a common suggestion from doctors to ill patients to travel to a fair-weather location for recovery. Charles Spurgeon took regular trips to Scotland and France to escape from the gloomy London weather. Adoniram Judson recuperated at times from damp Burma by voyaging at sea to a fair-weather location.
Use your vacation time to enjoy outdoor activities under the sun.
2. Experiment With Your Exercise Routine
Routines help us stay disciplined and focused. But a vacation brings a natural disruption to these routines, and this disruption can be a blessing to a rigid structure. It can help us learn.
Allowing yourself to experiment with different movements can breathe new life into your routine. A new activity can take a stale routine and turn it into something fresh.
Try a new mode of exercise while on vacation. If you are a cyclist, try swimming laps in a pool. If you are a runner, try cycling. If you are a barbell bro, experiment with dumbbell lifts. If you are a dumbbell dude, try swinging a kettlebell. If you are a kettlebell-only guy, try incorporating some bodyweight movements.
Or, within your area of familiarity, try a new movement. If you enjoy bodyweight workouts, try more challenging push-up variations. If you enjoy kettlebells, try pairing familiar kettlebell movements together to create new kettlebell flows.
If you experiment, you might find yourself picking up a new skill or interest that you can carry back with you into your routine.
3. Reflect On Your Exercise Routine
As it relates to stewarding your time, resources, body, etc…, vacations are excellent opportunities to check in and reflect on what’s working well and what isn’t. This purposeful prayer and reflection can help you learn and adjust towards more faithfulness.
For body-stewardship, here are some questions you can reflect and pray through:
- What have I enjoyed about my exercise routine?
- What results did I see?
- What spiritual fruit did I see through exercise?
- What have I not enjoyed about my exercise routine?
- What results didn’t I see?
- Were there any areas of sin that were exposed through my exercise that I need to repent of?
This reflection does not need to be overly complicated. But the purpose of asking questions like these is to help prompt further body-stewardship that will be sanctifying. Pray through these things and ask the Lord to give you wisdom.
4. Feast Unto the Lord
Our modern vacations involve plenty of food and drink. And if we are honest, the feasting typically done with a vacation mindset of “anything goes” creates temptations to gluttonous eating and unregulated drinking.
There is a biblical category for feasting, and it’s a topic not often discussed or reviewed from the pulpit. While our modern vacations are culturally different than the feasts in Scripture, there are principles we can learn from how the law instructed the people of God to celebrate with a meal.
Leviticus 23 shares seven occasions where feasting is part of a celebration:
- The Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3)
- The Passover (Leviticus 23:4-8)
- The Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14)
- The Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22)
- The Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25)
- The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32)
- The Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:33-44).
These feasts are described throughout Leviticus 23 as “feasts of the Lord” or “feasts to the Lord”. These were appointed times in Israel’s year to take an intentional break from work, remember something from their history, fellowship over a meal, and celebrate what the Lord had done for them.
A vacation is our modern break from our daily routines that involve plenty of food. And gathering with others around the dinner table while on vacation is an opportunity to fellowship with each other and reflect on God’s grace and mercy that He has demonstrated to us. This appropriate enjoyment of feasting with a thankful heart is both good and refreshing to our souls.
We should avoid feasting like Cretans, who were called “lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12), but instead feast with a sober-minded attitude (Titus 2:6) that recognizes the provision and goodness of God in our lives.
When we feast, we eat and drink. And whether we eat and drink, we do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
5. Rest Unto the Lord
Lastly, vacations can be used to take a break from your routine to rest.
A well-designed exercise routine will incorporate at least 1-2 days per week for rest, and then at least 1 week for rest every 12 or so weeks. Your body needs this time for recovery and recuperation. Resting in this pattern can help with muscle recovery, injury avoidance, and plateauing.
The biblical pattern of rest is typified by the Sabbath. The Sabbath rest came after 6 days of work (Exodus 20:8-11). It was a gift from God to be enjoyed after grueling work by diligent laborers. Like feasting, resting was purposeful; it was meant for recovery, reflection, and recognizing God’s goodness in the lives of His people. Resting wasn’t a time for pure, rigid, and legalistic inactivity (think Matthew 12:1), but it was a holy and separate day meant for the worker’s rest.
When on vacation, try taking a break from your exercise routine. “Play” outside by doing other physical activities, but set the weights down. Get adequate hours of sleep each night. Allow your body time to recover. And use this rest period with an eye and heart to God’s goodness, grace, and provision in your life.
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