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Holy Health! Meet spiritual leaders who practice both faith and fitness
Sep. 24, 2015 at 8:56 AM Jordi Lippe-McGraw
Many of us turn to religious leaders for everything from spiritual guidance to life advice. But using them for workout and diet tips? Not so much.

Yet, as obesity rates rise worldwide, more and more faith leaders are turning to a healthier lifestyle and encouraging their followers to do the same.

While a strong spiritual foundation and prayer or meditation can have positive effects on the mind, everyone from the pope to the Dalai Lama has incorporated physical activity and healthy eating into their daily routine.

Of course, it’s not always their idea. Earlier this year, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that doctors recommended Pope Francis cut back on the pasta and increase his walking to lose some of the weight he’d put on since moving into the Vatican. (Prior to taking the top spot in the Catholic Church, it’s been reported, the Pope enjoyed lighter meals of fruit, skinless chicken and salads.)
Amidst his hectic travel schedule and frequent public engagements, the pope has reportedly been advised to take more time for walks and exercise.
In 2011, evangelical pastor Rick Warren helped his congregation at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, to collectively lose about 250,000 pounds with a weight loss program after being inspired by his own 60-pound weight loss. The usual message of avoiding temptation now carried over into dietary choices like avoiding sweets and second helpings. Their commitment inspired other churches to join in the weight loss program.

Pastor Joel Osteen has been spotted on the beach showing off his six-pack abs and often posts diet and fitness advice on his website encouraging people to “take care of your temple.”
The buff Protestant leader tells his followers to limit sugar and caffeine and consume more water, fruits, vegetables and organic foods. He even appointed Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic to lead the health and fitness program at his Texas church.

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