Exercising for the sake of exercising? Why do we do this? It’s weird and it’s certainly not cool. We all know that for the majority of adult exercising is for aesthetics not health. And that’s what the fitness industry frequently propagates. I bet our neanderthal ancestors weren’t fretting about their post work spin session or the size of their arms. It’s seen as a necessary evil to squeeze exercise into your busy daily routine, aspiring to the dream healthy lifestyle. But it’s not as glamorous as it’s made out to be and it’s weird.
Exercise is just a subsection of movement. Performing any movement burns energy, so every movement contributes to the maintenance of our ability to complete that movement and to perform it better next time. Movement is not seen as a chore. We move naturally everyday, because we want to, because we can and because we have to.
Mowing the lawn, playing football, gardening, walking your dog, cycling to work and cleaning your house are all prime examples, they all burn energy and so are good for your health. Importantly all these movements have purpose. We get something else in addition to burning calories from these activities.
When ‘exercising’ you don’t get anywhere, you don’t see anything, you don’t learn anything and you don’t speak to anyone. You don’t even perfect movements that will be valuable in your ‘normal’ life. They are literally pointless movements, that you repeat over and over just to burn calories. Try to think of a real life situation where performing a perfect press up adds value. We’re struggling.
In fact you spend most of the time wishing it to be over. So why do we still exercise for exercising’s sake? You could argue that it’s a more efficient way of burning energy. You will certainly burn more energy in an intense exercise class than you will walking to work. But it’s shocking to think that we are trying to make our lives more efficient at any cost?
And why do we do this in our free time? My life is precious, my free time even more precious, I don’t want to sacrifice any of my time doing something I don’t enjoy, be it 4% or 40%. It’s easily forgotten that formal exercise is not the only way to fitness. You can achieve the same results doing something with purpose.
Imagine it. Movement with purpose. How much more value does that have to you and your life? You can travel places, learn things, meet people, enjoy yourself, get fit and transform your life.
Instead of spinning in the gym, cycle to work, instead of doing hundreds of press ups, learn to climb a rope or a wall using parcour skills. Instead of speaking to noone, find a community in a sports team and improve your speed, agility and reaction times. Look for something that you truly enjoy, you’ll find yourself looking forwards to your workouts instead of skipping them.
I find it tragic that exercise is universally viewed as a chore. But that so many people are still willing to sacrifice some of their valuable time on earth doing something they hate. Week in, week out. And that applies to professionals too, those who push themselves everyday to prove something but don’t love it.
Life is too short for that and it’s too rich to need to do that. Step off the treadmill and take a look around. Fill your life with purposeful movements. Happiness is a balance between pleasure and purpose, if you can find a workout that gives you pleasure, you will find purpose in getting fit.
Make a change and make yourself happy.