Moral obligation to exercise/maintain health?

Thought of this after responding to a post in another thread. Just thinking out loud.

First, I’m not suggesting that failure to exercise is a sin. So all of your scrupulous types who haven’t been hitting the gym, relax and don’t go running for the confessional. I’m also not suggesting that everyone has an obligation to become a hardcore athlete. I’m talking about a reasonable amount of exercise, not training for a triathlon.

Anyway, I think there’s a decent argument to be made that maintaining health and fitness is sort of a moral obligation. For one, you’re doing your part to take care of the body God gave you. You’re more likely to have good health longer if you take care of yourself. Second, it will give you more energy to do other things. Not to mention, if you’re married, you have an obligation to make a reasonable effort to be physically attractive to your spouse (this applies to both men and women, before I get accused of sexism.) Finally, you’ll avoid being an unnecessary burden to others. Imagine how much we could save as a society on health care costs if we weren’t such an obese country.

Anyway, curious to hear other people’s input.

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Yes, there is a reasonable requirement to “preserve oneself as he is” according to the first category of natural inclination.

It’s certainly wrong for one to deliberately deny himself the basic care needed to maintain his health and fitness.

An extreme example of this principle being violated would be the case of a Hindu man who kept his arm elevated for many years, allowing it to waste away into a useless appendage.

A more normal example for everyday people would be, for example, if a person was strongly advised by his doctor that he needed to take a walk for 15 minutes a day to keep up his circulatory health, and that person deliberately chose not to do so even though he had both the time and presence of mind to do so.

This, from the catechism, is related:

**364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:232

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. 233**

We are to take reasonable care of our health.

Catechism 2288 and following:

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm#2288

That was great; thank you. I forgot that section completely. And I love the way 2289 balances the teaching.

Hi. As the other peeps displayed, the Catechism holds the deposit of the faith, so it is good to start there in your investigations.

I would add, that being married does incur a certain responsibility to look after your health, maybe moreso than when being single, though even when single, one still would be obliged to seek medical aid when ill, as this is akin to loving oneself with due accord, that is appropriate in light of the fact that we are made in God’s image, which does not omit the body, in this understanding. And if married, then one would also have to set some kind of example to the children and be fit enough to look after the family. Of course, working is a way to exercise. And whether going down to the gym really comes under sensible healthy living, who knows. I think, having a sport or going for a walk is okay, in that regard. It is not a sin to exercise - sinful aspects would begin in the intention as to why one is doing such things.

Another poster mentioned the ‘balance’ which the Catechism puts forth as an answer, and I think ‘balance’ is the key. You are probably thinking about another aspect of the faith, which is mortification, but I would suspect that mortification does not neglect what the body needs, on purpose, only what the body often doesn’t need i.e:- we often intake more than we need. For example, the subject of fasting. We are advised to fast and pray etc…if we wish to fight the flesh and its temptations; however, no one would ever advise that we fast until we are ill or that we fast when we are ill. Sometimes we are given crosses that make life difficult but I tend to think that when these come they are a time of trial that are not necessarily good, though efficacious, in themselves. But only good, in that through the suffering one learns to cling to God more. I don’t think that looking for crosses is ever really that advisable.

Religious Orders do obviously make sacrifices (of praise) in their mortifications, and their very vows open the door to life-long discipline while closing the door to excess, that the Brothers and Sisters can rely more whole-heartedly on God Himself, to hold them up. But even in those situations, one’s body would to some degree be taken care of, though indulgence would be a strict no-no.

Also too, rest and recreation are both necessary, spiritually.

Sorry…‘guards’ the deposit of faith, not ‘holds’.

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