Viewpoint from Pastor Victor Hulbert for 27th September 2013
Pastor Victor Hulbert Communication Director
Seventh-day Adventist Church Headquarters, UK & Ireland
Stanborough Park, Watford
The Olympic legacy has just arrived in my local park. At first I was annoyed. Builders fencing went up with photos of a children's play area. "Do they really need another one?" I thought.
However, as it started to develop I came to understand the rationale. These were play things focused around exercise and coordination. There is even some adult outdoor exercise equipment.
"Impressive," I thought. "I could use this during my early morning dog walk.
However, that can be difficult as every morning since it has been finished, people have been enthusiastically using the equipment. These are not gym fanatics. The age profile and body shapes indicate that perhaps these are exactly the people that this equipment is intended for.
I don't miss the paradox either. This exercise gear is located just 200 metres from a McDonalds – and quite often the queue for chips and burgers stretches right up the hill. While the fast food industry is doing its best to make residents obese, the local council is balancing it with fun exercise. I'm all in favour.
I partly walk my dogs for exercise, partly as a time to meditate and relax. Recently the poor beasts have found themselves having to move faster as health experts encouraged me to reduce my cholesterol level with an improved diet and a boost to the exercise programme. "Don't just walk, get yourself a bit out of breath," they said.
It was the shock of a friend having a heart attack that finally propelled me into action. In two months I halved my cholesterol level, and over the past year my weight also dropped by 13 kg.
I'm not sure why it took something like a friends heart attack to make me change my lifestyle. Yet, as a result, I feel so much better. I have more energy and – so people tell me – look younger. It is a lifestyle change that has now become a habit.
The apostle John tells his readers, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." [3 John 1 KJV]
Health is an important part of the bigger picture – and interestingly I find the health tips from the experts are coinciding with Biblical principles. Principles of balance, of thankfulness, in the early parts of Genesis an emphasis on plant based nutrition and physical exercise – and in Leviticus and the writings of Paul, an avoidance of those things that will destroy both body and soul!
Yet it can be hard to put into practice. I see people buy cigarettes with 'smoking kills' messages plastered prominently across the packaging. It's easy for me to be judgemental on them – yet in effect, the love of cheese, biscuits and cakes was doing the same to my cholesterol as it was to their lungs.
I hope the Olympic legacy does make a difference across the play areas of Britain. Having seen the positive change in my life I've become quite passionate about it.