Do The Quran And Hadith Mention The Benefits of Physical Exercise?

Safiya Rahman

July 12, 2023
Muslim woman exercising in a gym as recommended by the Quran

One of the main things Islam teaches us as Muslims is how to live a fulfilled life to maximise happiness in this life and the hereafter.

When we are born, we are gifted our bodies, and it is up to us to maintain these vessels as a form of gratitude and remembrance of Allah. So what does Allah and his messenger Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) tell us about physical health and exercise?

We know now that there is a strong link to physical health and mental wellness, emotional strength and spirituality. In the below verses, we can see how and why Allah commands us to maintain bodily wellness in the Holy Quran and narrations from the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

1. "Do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands" 💪

Spend in the Way of Allah and do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands; do good, for Allah loves those who do good. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:195)

In this verse, Allah commands us to hold our own personal interests and wellbeing close to our hearts. We should not allow ourselves to 'let ourselves go' and destructions in this sense could mean both for the soul and our bodies. And the reward of taking care of ourselves is to receive the love of Allah and be able to shower in his mercy.

Muslim woman maintaining health by running in a park, in line with Quranic teachings

2. Running as physical exercise 🏃🏽‍♂️

“I raced with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and beat him in the race. Later, when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won.” [11, 16(p26),17]

In this narration we can see how Islam not only promotes healthy walking but also more strenuous physical exercise like running. We know that Rasoolullah (SAWS) loved racing and there are also ahadith about his love of wrestling.

3. Walking, horse-riding & swimming 🏊🏽‍♀️

“Any action without remembrance of Allah is either diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target (during archery practice), training a horse, playing with one’s family and learning to swim.” [19]

In this authentic hadith, narrated in At-Tabarani, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged walking during archery practice, horse training, family play and swimming. Again, we can see the importance of more rigorous physical exercise in maintaining not just bodily health, but social relations too.

Muslim man training on a horse in accordance with Islamic teachings

4. "Your body has a right over you" ❤️‍🩹

“Your body has a right over you” “A stronger believer is better than a weak believer” [12]

In this authenticated hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari 5199) it was narrated by Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As that the Prophet (SAWS) maintains that our bodies and eyes have a right over us. In this, we can see just how important it is for us to maintain our vessels as they have been gifted to us by Allah.

Ultimately we all belong to Allah and we will all return to Him. It is therefore our duty to take care of our bodies and return them in as best a condition as we can. Physical exercise is one way to make sure we can perform this.

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