Practicing the Five Fitnesses

spiritual fitness


When you hear the word “fitness,” what do you think about? Probably some sort of physical activity, like running or lifting weights, right? But there are other types of fitness – five different ones to be precise! These five fitnesses all work together to make us effective contributors in God’s Kingdom.

Great examples of living with joy – and sharing it with others – often come from our pets! What are the things your pet teaches you about joy? Take the challenge below and let us know:

Make a fun video about joy co-starring your pet! Share it on social media and make sure to tag @BringYourBible on Facebook and Instagram!

The five fitnesses are:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Relational
  5. Physical

Read on for a detailed description of each and how you can get stronger in each one!

1. Spiritual Fitness

The first, and most important fitness is Spiritual Fitness…

1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV) says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This passage shows that we can all strive to be spiritually fit, regardless of our age. Scripture talks about God’s desire for us to grow in our walk of faith, to become more and more “spiritually fit” as we contribute in God’s Kingdom.

Spiritual fitness is necessary if we hope to shine a light for Christ to those around us. Especially in today’s culture, which is squarely opposed to the truth of the Gospel. For an example of how important it is to be spiritually fit in a secular world, look no further than Daniel. He was taken to Babylon as an exile when he was young, but his deep-rooted faith allowed him to make a mighty impact for God, even in a foreign and hostile land.

So, how can you achieve spiritual fitness? Like any fitness, success is often determined by time and training. Make time to exercise your spirit by reading the Bible, either on your own or out loud with family or friends in a Bible study. Pray throughout the day, keeping an open conversation with God going. Focus on gratitude for what God has blessed you with.

By doing these things, you will build the foundation for spiritual success and be ready for the moments when you can shine Christ’s light to those around you.

2. Emotional Fitness

The second fitness to learn is Emotional Fitness…

Emotions are signals for what’s going on in our mental life – we respond to the thoughts we already have inside. Everyone has emotions, the key is how we react to them. A good question to ask yourself is are you emotionally safe to be around? Do your responses to your emotions cause harmony with others or a disconnect?

At one time or another, we all fall into the latter category and our emotions get the better of us. In those cases, we need to address the problem. What’s stirring inside you that you need to face? How do you face it and correct it, becoming emotionally fit?

The book of Colossians has the solution: we are to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” These are the exercises that will curb our negative emotional reactions. If you lash out in anger, intentionally try to exercise patience and kindness to curb that angry reaction. Process your emotions in a healthy way, using King David as an example. The Psalms are packed full of David’s emotions as he worked through them with God. Because of that, he was often able to respond in the right way.

God gave us emotions, but we aren’t supposed to be ruled by them. Practice the things that help you curb your negative emotions, and you’ll be well on your way toward being emotionally fit!

3. Mental Fitness

The third fitness to train in is Mental Fitness…

Mental fitness is extremely important. There is a constant battle in our minds over what we will focus on. The key is to pay attention to God’s truth and turn away from the thoughts that would pull us away from that truth. Ephesians details the full Armor of God. An important piece of that armor is the Belt of Truth, which helps hold everything together. Have you equipped the Belt of Truth in your life?

Colossians tells us to, “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Think about what you take in mentally each day. What are you consuming? What are you learning? Are you growing in wisdom, which is the “knowledge after the image of its creator?”

Mental fitness begins with gratitude. Strive to align your mind with a place of gratitude – what can you be thankful for? As an exercise, try to identify as many things to be thankful for as you possibly can. You may be surprised how much your mental fitness is strengthened. Another exercise is to think beyond yourself. Notice other people’s thoughts and have conversations about it, helping them arrive at a place of truth. It takes a lot to be mentally fit, but you can do it!

4. Relational Fitness

Relational Fitness is the fourth fitness to master…

We are built for relationships. It doesn’t matter if we are outgoing or shy, we all have a need for relationships in our lives. It’s important to our relational fitness that we are very intentional about building those relationships with friends and family.

If you’re wondering what a strong relational fitness looks like, check out the passage on the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. We should be bringing those qualities into our friendships, encouraging one another and really learning to listen and support those close to us.

What are some exercises for relational fitness? Try these three things: notice others around you who need a friend and be that friend to them. Build up your friends; brighten their day with an encouraging message. And finally, connect with them on a deep level and get to know them more. With these three steps, you can start establishing strong relationships and showing God’s love to those around you.

You won’t always be perfect in your relationships, but don’t let that discourage you. You may need to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness at times, but with a present and intentional attitude, you will grow in your relational fitness.

5. Physical Fitness

The fifth and final fitness is the one most people would associate with fitness – Physical Fitness…

Even though it’s the last fitness listed, physical fitness is still incredibly important to success of the other four. Physical fitness is about doing a good job managing the body that God has given us. Sleeping well, eating well, and exercising are all critical elements of keeping your body and mind healthy.

Physical fitness is also about self-control. It’s about establishing healthy limits for yourself so you are better equipped to have success in the other fitnesses. We all need to discipline our bodies to support what our minds and souls have been called to do, not the other way around.

You probably have a good idea of what to do to improve your physical fitness. Set up a consistent exercise schedule. Take time to go outside and be active. Eat healthy foods and fats to power your body and brain. Drink plenty of water. And, of course, get plenty of rest.

Do these things, and you’ll have a healthy body to support your spirit, emotions, mind, and relationships!


This month’s theme verse:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)


Start a fitness challenge!

Now that you know the five different types of fitness, encourage your family to improve their spiritual, emotional, mental, relational, and physical health by starting a fitness challenge!

Create your own fitness plan. Track each family member’s progress in their fitness and assign point totals for each fitness achievement. The tasks can be the same, or tailored to each family member individually. Keep a running score for the rest of the summer and see who grows the most in the five fitnesses!

Whatever you decide to do, we’d love to see it. Share your fitness plan photos and videos with us on Facebook and Instagram by tagging @BringYourBible.

About the Author


Bret Eckelberry

Bret Eckelberry

Yeah, these are good too…

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Copyright © 2023 Focus on the Family

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Join the Movement!

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