Celebrating Men’s Health Month

Four ways to support healthy habits

by Lauren Hales

Take time this June a celebrate the men in your congregation and encourage their healthy habits and choices. It’s never too late to introduce health education into your congregation. Use these ideas for Men’s Health Month to inspire your own activities and get your congregation better informed on the importance of taking care of their […]

Women’s Heart Health on the Move

Turning awareness into action

February is not only National Heart Month, it also boasts the American Heart Association’s Go Red Day—a day dedicated to raising awareness about women’s cardiovascular disease and heart health. In the US alone, 1 in 4 women dies from heart disease annually, and each year over 395,000 women suffer a heart attack (about one every […]

A Journey of Faith Through Advent

An excerpt from Walking to the Manger: An Advent Devotional

Walking to the Manger: An Advent Devotional is a collection of devotionals inviting you to make walking, reflecting and prayer a part of your daily Advent practice. Every week begins with an opportunity to set a “movement goal,” or a reasonable physical challenge for yourself. For a child has been born for us, a son […]

Negative Nerves of Exercise

Changing language and perception

Is there a difference between exercise and movement? One word sounds like work and dread! The other sounds like the fun of life. One sounds overwhelming and impossible. The other brings calm and relaxation! One conjures up visions of treadmills and gyms and the other sounds like finding your step and getting your groove on. […]

Bible Study on the Move

Walking, talking, praying, and community

by Lauren Hales

In Crosstown Concourse, a mixed-use redevelopment located in Memphis, Tennessee, a dedicated group of people meets weekly to feed both their spirits and their bodies. Pastor Byron Fitchpatric, head pastor of the new Crosstown Church, lives in the Concourse with his family and volunteers with Church Health to lead this group in a time of […]

It Takes Two to Tango (or three, or four…)

How Synchronic Exercise Can Affect Our Well-Being

Have you ever marveled at the beauty of a synchronic performance? Whether in ballet, gymnastics, underwater aerobics, or yoga, people moving together transforms a simple activity into something deeply communal. It turns out that there is some scientific evidence to why synchronic activities are so much more pleasant than a solo venture. For one thing, […]

Get Your Family Moving

Movement and exercise aren’t just for adults. In fact, there are simple ways that even the busiest family can get moving. Try out these tips for exercise and movement that can be enjoyed by the kids, teens and adults, together. Walk More Go for a pre- or post-dinner walk. Building a walk into your daily […]

Tips for Adding Steps to Your Day

Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise, and has countless benefits. By making some small changes in your daily activities you can easily increase the number of steps that you take per day. Go window shopping at the mall. Mow the lawn with a walking mower. Park in the back row of the […]

Laughter Yoga

An annoyance leads to a joyous calling

by Katie Zimmerman

Laughter yoga—yes, it’s a real thing! I first discovered laughter yoga on my college campus when a group of people were laughing obnoxiously outside of my dorm while I was trying to take a nap. What started as annoyance morphed into curiosity, then participation. Before I knew it, I enrolled to become a certified instructor. […]

Congregations Move Where You Are

One of the best ways to add movement to your day as an individual is to consider where you can add movement naturally to things you’re already doing—parking farther away, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking an extra block with the dog, and so on. How can a congregation model adding movement to […]

Mindfulness of Our Bodies

A Call to the awareness of God

by Roger Joslin

The apostle Paul has quite a lot to say about the role of the body in spiritual development. In his first letter to the Corinthians he wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” […]

Move More!

We’ve all heard it, we know we need to do it. Try these easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Get off the bus a stop early and walk. Walk briskly in the mall. Take the dog on a longer walk. Park further from […]

Real-Life Movement

7 Tips for Including Movement in the Way You Live

Take an extra lap. Once you’ve got the grocery cart fully loaded, take a final victory lap around the perimeter of the store pushing its weight at a brisk pace. Stretch it out. Feeling bored or sleepy in the middle of the day? Rather than reach for a snack, try a few stretches. Start with […]

Pursuing a God Who Beckons

Pilgrimage toward a whole spiritual relationship

by Karen L. Klein

A pilgrimage and trip are not the same thing. The main goal of a trip is to get to a destination and, once there, accomplish a purpose. Often it’s to relax and rejuvenate, have a little fun and bring back souvenirs. Or perhaps a trip might involve a particular objective—to secure a new job, meet […]

First Place, First Step

Bible studies to feed body and spirit

by Vicki Heath

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about how great life would be if you could just get in shape? Until the fall of 1993 I had been able to stay in pretty good shape. Not perfect, but good enough. But in 1993 I became completely stuck. I would tell myself I already knew how to […]

Jumpstart Your Pilgrimage

Setting out on your at-home spiritual journey

Are you inspired to make a pilgrimage of your own but unable to take an extended break from work and family life? Pilgrimage, an intentional spiritual journey, can happen anywhere—all it takes is planning and intentionality. For instance, walking El Camino de Santiago in your own backyard or neighborhood is as simple as deciding to […]

Walking in Jordan

Exploring Jesus’ steps in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

by Rachel Davis

During a recent trip to the land of Jordan, I quickly realized that Jesus’ disciples definitely didn’t need to build in time for exercise. If they had a first-century pedometer, they would have met their step goals daily. Walking through the ruins of these once-great Greco-Roman cities where Jesus walked gave me a better understanding […]

Why Walk

A Journey for Body and Spirit

For most people, walking is a simple form of exercise. Weather permitting, walkers can be outside on nature paths, sidewalks, or tracks. They can also be inside malls, large stores or fitness centers. Individuals can choose the length of time and pace of walking. The health benefits of a brisk walking habit are well known, […]

Team Works

Sports, Athletics and Autism

by Mary Boland

What is autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an increasingly recognized developmental disability with about 1 in every 68 children falling on the autism spectrum (CDC, 2014). Adults who were not properly diagnosed in previous decades can also be on the widely varying spectrum. Depending on where the individual falls on the spectrum, a number […]


Team Pursuit!

Q&A with Chloe Dygert, 2016 USA Olympian

by Rachel Davis

Chloé Dygert, 19 and from Brownsburg, Indiana, qualified for the summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to compete in the women’s track team pursuit, a cycling event. She attends Connection Pointe Christian Church. We asked her to tell us a little about her life where sports and faith meet. Rachel Davis: Tell me about […]


Natural Connections

Q&A with Jennifer Pharr Davis

by Rachel Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis is a long distance hiker and the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. In 2011, she set the unofficial record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail at 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. She held the record for four years until her record was surpassed, and she currently holds the women’s […]

Gonna Make You Sweat

Sweaty Sheep Ministries

by Mary Boland

“When did we decide that faith was a passive experience?” Ryan Althaus, a fitness enthusiast and recreation specialist, says that it’s not. Recognizing the disconnect between recreation and the church, Ryan saw an opportunity to merge the two, and Sweaty Sheep Ministries was born.“Movement is so tied to fitness and wellness overall,” he stresses, “it’s […]

Home On The Road

Congregations open their doors to long-distance cyclists

by Mary Boland

Hospitality and movement go hand in hand. While many of us travel cross-country in automobiles of all shapes and sizes, traffic on the highway, or a delayed train or flight, is typically the most we have to worry about. For a long-distance cyclist, though, traffic is less a concern than the distance your legs have […]

A Model Hospital

How one medical center is making the Model for Healthy Living come to life

by Mary Boland

The OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Wellness Services has taken the Model for Healthy Living to a whole new level by using its structure in their Surgical Weight Loss Program. They’ve devised a revision of the information provided to patients by crafting Journey to Better Health Wellness Passports. The pocket-sized passports are easily portable so […]

How to Play Better

Fostering good games and godly outcomes

by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks

I once served a church where the youth group had a long tradition of a night entirely devoted to games that had to do with food. By the end of the night everyone was filthy with food—food that could have been enjoyed by someone who needed it. When I questioned the use of food as […]

Baby, Let’s Move

Exercise During Pregnancy

by Erica Perkins

Many moms-to-be worry about whether or not exercising while pregnant is safe for their baby The answer is: Yes! The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most, if not all, days of the week, including both cardiovascular and strength conditioning […]

Prayers Per Mile

In times of strength and sorrow, running is my prayer

by Robyn Bles

My lungs and legs move past the initial shock of exertion and fall into a steady rhythm with my heart. With each footfall, my body relaxes more into my pace. As the oppressive heat of the summer day lifts, I hear my breathing mingle with the sounds of the early evening. The cicadas’ song echoes […]

A New Recreation

How play, sport and Sabbath restore us to health in body and spirit

by Susan Martins Miller

Two little boys are a ferocious force when they make up their minds to go to a Cubs game. My dad immigrated to the US from Brazil in his mid-twenties. He could bounce a soccer ball off his head with the best, but he understood little about baseball. My two older brothers, growing up in […]

Book Review

Beyond the Gold

What Every Church Needs to Know about Sports Ministry

reviewed by Mary Boland

In his book, Beyond the Gold: What Every Church Needs to Know about Sports Ministry, Bryan Mason emphasizes the relevance of sports ministry, through which churches can discover a new, invigorating avenue for engaging their congregation, as well as garnering more opportunities to spread their mission beyond the church walls. From discussions on how to […]

5 Ways to Make Your Church More Bike-Friendly

by Church Health Reader Editors

Add more bike parking by adding bike staples along sidewalks, or a bike corral in a parking lot. Add lockers or simply hooks inside your church to accommodate biker’s gear like helmets, outerwear, and water packs. Create bike maps with safe routes to and from your church from different parts of the neighborhood. Offer classes […]

Building the Blessings of Bikes

Revolutions Bicycle Co-op

by Stacy Smith

Some were brand new and some were worn out. Some were created using spare parts, and others were still a bit dusty from the last time they got outside. One had room for two riders, and one had room for two infants. But that morning all the bikes were blessed at First Congregational Church. These […]


Walking as a Focal Practice

Q&A with Arthur Paul Boers

by John Shorb

Arthur Paul Boers is author of The Way Is Made by Walking and Our Work, God’s World published by the Church Health. He is a professor at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario and a Benedictine Oblate – a person who is outside a monastery but commits to living Benedictine values. Church Health Reader spoke with […]


Prayerful Running

Q&A with Roger Joslin

by John Shorb

Rev. Roger Joslin is the author of Running the Spiritual Path and an Episcopal priest at All Saints’ Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. He spoke with Church Health Reader about his journey toward prayerful running. John Shorb: How did running start to become spiritual for you? Roger Joslin: Life grew difficult and I went through a […]

Home-Field Advantage

Sports ministries provide love, support and healthy competition

by Kelsey Pierce

Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) is a non-profit organization created in 1998 by community leaders who wanted to serve under-resourced neighborhoods in Memphis. They had a desire to create an organization where kids were able to be in a safe environment, play basketball, have fun, and possibly connect with someone who would invest in their lives. […]

Liturgy: The Work-Out of the People

by Stacy Smith

The word liturgy, or the public worship of a faith community, is derived from the Greek meaning “the work of the people.” Congregations perform many actions during the liturgy including sitting, standing, kneeling, praying, singing, making an offering, or sharing a blessing. While some traditions include a lot of physical activity during a worship service, […]

Book Review

Praying with the Body

Bringing the Psalms to Life

reviewed by Sybil MacBeth

This work is a unique guidebook for praying the Psalms. Roy invites the reader to not just say or read the Psalms but to wear the Psalms. He wants us to put them on our bodies, to put them in our bodies. He wants the words to become flesh and dwell in us. The invitation […]

A Swimming Success

A pool ministry in Jacksonville, Florida, provides both safety and fun

by Dave Callen

“We believe in wellness in body, mind, and spirit,” says the Rev. Jeff Reichmann, rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Surrounded by the ocean, the river, and the marshes, the neighborhoods of Jacksonville pursue learning to swim as a sport and demand it as a survival skill for the city’s children. During […]

Get Going!

Trinity Lutheran Church in Monument, CO

by Church Health Reader Editors

Faith community nurse Jackie Sward began a health ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Monument, Colorado with a grant of $400 and a team of likeminded people. As she began to tap into the resources of her own congregation, she was surprised to find how many health professionals were available and willing to promote a […]

Prayer on a Yoga Mat

Yahweh Yoga in Cleveland, Mississippi

by Church Health Reader Editors

Mental relaxation and physical exercise—that is what Rev. Darian Duckworth was looking for when she first explored yoga as a college freshman. She found both. When she started working as a pastor a few years later, the opportunity to also become a yoga instructor presented itself. “As I practiced and worked as a pastor,” Darian […]


Shapin’ Up

Michelle Romain discusses her Bible-based fitness camp for kids

by Sarah Ranson

Michelle Romain has over 20 years experience in children’s ministry as a pastor, speaker and writer. She created Shapin’ Up Fitness Camp to help kids have a passion to serve God with all of their heart, mind and body. Michelle lives in Lexington, Ky. with her husband, Denny, and has three children. Sarah Ranson: You […]

Heavy Faith, Healthy Bodies

by Gary Thomas

About six feet tall and weighing in at 165 pounds, I entered a conference for professional football players and their wives. That stat alone will tell you I was there as a speaker, not as a player. When these players are on the football field, surrounded only by each other, they don’t look quite as […]

Walk to Jerusalem/Walk to Bethlehem

The Walk to Jerusalem and Walk to Bethlehem programs are both imaginary walks that “begin” at your current location and “end” in the Holy Land. The community calculates the distance in miles from your city to the chosen destination – for example, Chicago, Illinois to Jerusalem is approximately 6,200 miles. Each individual then tracks their […]

Making Room for Yoga

by Darian Duckworth

The parish that I serve has a second story with many rooms. Some are used for Sunday school, others for storage, and some for worship. In one of these rooms, three times a week, people sit cross-legged on the floor and face a large window with a cross built into its design. We breathe quietly. […]

Book Review

A Plain Life: Walking My Belief

Book Review

reviewed by Arthur Boers

A Plain Life: Walking My Belief by Scott Savage Scott Savage took his commitment to plain living to a logical conclusion by becoming an Old Order Quaker and relinquishing electricity and powered vehicles. This meant giving up on driving, so he walked for a week across the state of Ohio to turn in and abandon […]


Worshipping God through Dance

Q&A with Heidi Leyshon

by John Shorb

Heidi Leyshon is a liturgical dancer and teaches ballet, creative movement, liturgical dance, and dance exercise at the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee. She discusses how dance can be worship and how to begin a liturgical dance ministry. John Shorb: What motivates you to do liturgical dance? Heidi Leyshon: I believe that God gives […]

Book Review

The Way is Made by Walking

A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago

reviewed by Mary Allison Cates

The local newspaper of author, professor, and Mennonite minister Arthur Paul Boers featured a photo of his bare and gruesomely blistered foot. This display was just one result of his 31-day, 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, the path to northwestern Spain’s cathedral containing relics of James the apostle. The photo sparked the same […]