When you read that question – do you think of your physical heart, the organ ‘muscle’ that delivers blood throughout the body; or do you think of the emotional aspect of the heart, the innermost part of your being? After all, it is National Heart Month, so it’s the perfect time to ask this question as we seek to improve our “heart care”.
Let’s begin by focusing on the spiritual/emotional/mental dimensions of the heart and how each dimension is linked to one another. Consider this: what we believe, affects how we think, which affects how we feel, which affects what we do. Proverbs 4:23 says, ”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In order to guard our heart properly, we need to start with the right foundation, which is the Lord.
Here are some guidelines I recommend for a healthy spiritual heart. In the fitness industry, we call them FITT guidelines: frequency, intensity, type and time.
F.I.T.T. Guidelines for a PURE HEART
Frequency: Psalm 73:28 says, “it is good to draw near to the Lord.” Proverbs 3:1 says “do not forget my teaching”. How many of you have seen the movie “The Santa Clause” with Tim Allen? The little guy, Charlie, wants his dad, “Santa”, to remember the North Pole, so he throws him the snow globe and says, “Remember!” We need to “remember” what God tells us in his Word. In order to do that, we need to spend time reading His word.
Intensity: Ingest God’s word (read it and take it in), chew it up (think about it), digest it, and apply it to life.
Type: Time with the Lord can include prayer time (a combination of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (ACTS); reading God’s Word, and a reflection/meditation time.
Time: How much time am I offering to the Lord? Am I spending time on a daily basis with the Lord, or do I tend to wait until there’s a crisis, and suddenly this becomes important? I love the words a friend of mine who says, “let’s do first things first.”
Turning to the physical aspect of the heart – the muscle! Like any other muscle in the body, it must be worked to get stronger. According to the American Heart Association, “aerobic exercise includes activities that increase your breathing and heart rate.”
Here are a few more benefits as well:
F.I.T.T. Guidelines for Developing & Maintaining a STRONG HEART MUSCLE
Frequency: minimum 3 days a week. Increase frequency depending on goals.
Intensity: Exercise at a moderate pace.
Type of Exercise: Exercises that use the major muscle groups: walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, dancing, and cardio classes.
Time: Start with 20 minutes per session. Increase time depending on goals and endurance.
And remember, something is better than nothing.
Here are a few tips to help you get started or to keep you going with your cardiovascular exercise:
We can often lay aside our own health needs as we seek to care for our loved ones. Think of “heart care” the same way the airlines demonstrate an oxygen mask. If you take care of yourself first, you will be able to help others better.