Larry Tucker speaks about the importance of health at devotional

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Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science, spoke about the sacredness of our bodies at the May 28 devotional.

He recounted the pre-mortal existence where spirits accepted the opportunity to have a physical body. They rejoiced in the plan because they could have glorified bodies of flesh and bones like our heavenly parents.

“According to Joseph Smith, ‘We came to this earth that we might have a body, and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body,'” Tucker explained.

He went on to explain that our bodies are temples. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spends precious resources to build and maintain the temple buildings around the world. Much care and effort goes into landscaping, cleaning and beautifying them.

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Larry Tucker speaks about the importance staying fit and healthy. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

“Do we treat our bodies as temples?” Tucker asked. “Temples are sacred. The human body is sacred. It follows that our bodies should be given higher priority and more care than other things.”

As a professor, Tucker studies how to best take care of our bodies and how to keep them healthy and fit. He explained how common it is for people, even church members, to rationalize that they don’t have time to care for their bodies.

“They give little thought to the food they consume and view exercise as an activity only for athletes. Can you imagine how the Lord would feel if one of His holy temples were neglected because it was viewed as insignificant or not worth the effort?” Tucker said.

He continued by explaining that every blessing from God is predicated upon commandments. Health is no different. Good health and disease are governed by natural laws that God has established, like the Word of Wisdom.

The Word of Wisdom was given many years before the surgeon general said smoking was a health risk. Tucker acknowledged that smoking may not be a problem for most audience members, but he brought up another concern.

“Adults who smoke have a death rate that is about two times higher than non-smokers, but people who are unfit have a death rate that is about four times higher than those who are fit,” Tucker said.

Tucker also emphasized the portion of the Word of Wisdom that encourages us to eat “wholesome herbs.”

“Herbs are plants. Research shows that fruits and vegetables are especially good for us. Most adults eat only a small fraction of the recommended servings,” Tucker said.

Tucker explained that daily choices bring immediate consequences. Though it may not be obvious, our bodies are affected day by day. The same is true about our spirits. Choosing to go without scripture study or prayer, affects the spirit.

He went on to say that agency is an important part of God’s plan and we must learn self-control.

“To care for our temples, we too must learn self-control,” Tucker said. “If there were no consequences, most of us would rather eat a cookie than a carrot or be entertained than exercise. However, we often have to sacrifice today to earn the richest blessings tomorrow.”

He concluded with the reminder that disease and premature death are not always caused by choices. Genetics, environment and the choices of others play important roles. However, God blesses those individuals who do their part.

“A fit body is a righteous desire,” Tucker said. “I testify, that if we will turn to the Lord and call upon Him, He will help us, but He will not circumvent our agency. With the right attitude and the Lord at our side, we can learn to live a healthy lifestyle, which will enable us to more fully participate in life and enjoy its blessings.”

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