Archive for February, 2011

What is the purpose of exercise?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I used to go to a gym and lift weights. I wanted to make myself stronger so that I could run for longer when I played squash. I used to swim too because I liked snorkelling and also to help the squash playing.

Today, I find myself sat in front of a computer screen for most of the day. For a species that was born to move, my lack of activity is like a debilitating disease, crippling my existence. More and more research is showing that exercise is vital to our well being, not just physically but mentally as well. Even Alzheimer’s disease is mitigated against through good, physical health. Hospital patients are pitched out of their beds as soon as they are able to move without great pain. It has been proved that recovery is faster and deeper the sooner the body is mobile again after an injury. We have to move.

So today, I look for any excuse to move – any. If I am going to a meeting in an office block, I take the stairs. The lift is a killing machine. It uses power for a start which contributes to climate change and it prevents me from using my legs which were designed to walk and run. If I have to go into town on an errand, the bicycle is first choice. The car never goes to a car wash, it is with thanks that I am able to lean and stretch with a sponge over its metal and plastic skin.

I find exercising for its own sake, pointless. Now that I no longer play squash (it was damaging my knees), lifting weights has become a chore. No, it’s not even a chore, a chore accomplishes something – the floor is mopped, or the rubbish is thrown out – but lifting weights is the task of Sisyphus.

So why do they make the stairs so hard to find in hotels? And why are they so utilitarian? They should be the prime route for the rooms and the lift should be the carpet-less, utilitarian backup, just in case you have baggage or are overly tired from too much walking. It should be considered impolite to take the lift or the car unless you are disabled in some way. Society has got exercise backwards.