Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse.
|AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus|
But as I am reading through scientific articles, all about the relationship between exercise and various health parameters, I am suddenly struck by the meaninglessness of it all. Exercise is healthy in so many ways, but it really should not be something we partake in to improve our cholesterol levels. It is not something we should do to prevent osteoporosis or fatty liver and it is not something to do to hopefully feel or look good in 10 years’ time. Exercise should be about having a good time here and now, and any extra beneficial effects should be considered bonuses.
One of the reasons that so many of us struggle to just have fun moving and not being caught by the big monster that is stress, pressure and expectations, might be the influence from competitive sports. There is a big difference between exercising for the joy of exercise and exercising to become the best. Undoubtedly, competitive athletes also have fun exercising, but the presence of competition is what makes all the difference and we should not strive to become like competitive athletes. Once we set our goals high we start to specialize and we exclude so many ways of moving that would have been rewarding in so many ways.
I’m am not trying be some exercise hippie here, setting high goals and going for them is all good, but I feel that it should be easier for people to just play and have fun with exercise without all the fuss about high quality equipment or the neurotic focusing on numbers.
I know many of you are like me in that we feel we have too little time to exercise and so when we do get some time we try to make our exercise sessions count and try to make them as effective as possible, often heavy high intensity exercise that really wears you out. But think about it, what kind of inane way to exercise is that?
So if you ask me, the best exercise is the exercise that makes you happy. How about we just have some fun, eh?