Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Problem with the American View of "Exercise"

After much observation of people and their attitude towards working out and exercising, I have come to the following philosophy. Most people in America, and perhaps the Western world as a whole, have what I believe to be a way too analytical approach to exercise. By analytical, I mean, separating a whole into its parts; isolating the fundamental principles from something. Exercise should not be this way. It should not be: "let me isolate only the physical (muscles) part of my body, and train them in an artificial environment (while I watch YOuTube videos on my iPhone)". Rather, it should be, "Let me take a walk during my lunch break for 20 minutes, just around the block, or wherever, and just do nothing but walk and LOOK and think about what I see."

My ideas aren't motivated out of sheer philosophizing. There is an actual recent study that looked into whether strenuous exercise truly benefits us. The results are interesting, but predictable: the more we force ourselves to undergo strenuous workouts, the more calories we consume, and often, we just negate the effects of our workout. We shouldn't be looking at exercise as an "act-reward" system; although, subconsciously, I think many people treat exercise as such. "Let me work out for 2 hours at the gym on the treadmill; therefore I have a right to eat this dessert." Exercise should not be just about putting yourself in a sterile environment (it's not the equivalent of locking yourself up in a study cubicle in the library to study for a big exam). It should be so much more holistic than this. Taking the elevator instead of walking up the stairs with a big pile of books - that's exercise. Taking a break to go for a 15 minute walk during your workday - that's exercise. And not just because you want to "work" out your muscle fibers. Exercise should be about working out your mind and brain fibers - which means being observant, LOOKING at nature and what's around us, whether it be a leaf blowing in the wind or a bird singing up in a tree, anything. When we incorporate exercise as a way of life, when we make a conscious effort to be active in every aspect of our day-to-day existence instead of sequestering our exercise into 2 hour gym routines, then I think our lives our so much more normal! That is the way it was when we were kids, wasn't it?

1 comment:

ALEX! said...

I totally agree.

It is nice to be able to run with no ipod and just let your mind wander.

have a great trip!