Monday, April 26, 2010

Exercise is a Four Letter Word

I hate the word "exercise". Come to think of it, I don't think very highly of the word "workout" either. I think these two words are helping more and more people get out of shape every year. What thoughts does the word "exercise" conjure up to you? You are probably not thinking about puppies frolicking on a grassy lawn, or puffy clouds floating across a sunny, blue sky.

Who can blame you? Exercise is shoved down our throats from every angle. "Get your best bikini body with this simple workout!" "Sign up for our gym and our personal trainers will help you achieve your fitness goals!" "Abs of steel in only 5 minutes a day!" It all boils down to the same marketing angle: exercise sucks and spending money on this product will help it suck a little less. Exercise does suck! If you are going to a gym and staring at a wall of mirrors, lifting more weight than you have any right to be, or running in place for what seems like an eternity, you are not going to be having fun.

Thankfully, there is an alternative to the "e-word" and it's an "f-word": fun. Being active is doing something you want to do, for the reasons you choose. Running because you love the feeling of wind in your hair. Riding a bike because it helps you rediscover the feeling of freedom you lost when you became an adult. Hiking because you love how the world looks small from high on a mountain. Eating healthy food because it just tastes good. Do you sometimes have to go to a gym so that you can enjoy these activities more? Sure, but now you are working toward a dream rather than a "I need to lose x pounds by memorial day" goal.

When you find an activity that you love, everything else comes into focus. An active lifestyle develops around this simple discovery, and suddenly all the marketing efforts of the exercise industry become what they truly are: noise. Oswald Chambers said "if we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would do nothing forever and ever" and this is as true for our physical lives as it is for the spiritual walk he was referring to. Being active does take a conscious decision to do something every day, but don't do it because you feel obligated to or because you want to fit into a smaller pair of pants, do it because it's fun!


melissa said...

Now we just need to discover what our kids like to do to stay active, and encourage it. I suspect it's hiking. :)

Mom said...

I like your sentiment. I love walking and doing it has never been a chore however, I saw how plantar fasciitis can ruin such a simple pleasure. I would not wish what Lynda suffers on anyone.