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Your gym routine is worthless Our obsession with exercise shows a depressing lack of aspiration

There's a lot of other, more edifying, things she could be doing. Credit: Patricio Murphy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

There's a lot of other, more edifying, things she could be doing. Credit: Patricio Murphy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


May 18, 2021   5 mins

It seems I have a doppelgĂ€nger: a self-described “vigorous type” with a lifelong obsession with exercise, although this minor variation on Shriver happens to be gay. Born three years after me in 1960, Alison Bechdel grew up in roughly the same America as I did — as she notes, “before the dawn of the exercise epoch”. Girls weren’t expected to bestir themselves beyond 15 seconds of jogging in place in gym class, while bulging muscles on females were still considered gross. Nevertheless, Bechdel and I both resolved in our scrawny childhoods to become physically strong. We both invented ball games in the yard with rules of our own devising.

As I learned from her new graphic novel The Secret to Superhuman Strength, we both eschew team sports, preferring to compete primarily against ourselves. (Bechdel skis, and though I play tennis instead, I prefer rallying for hours on end to matches.) We were both regarded by schoolmates as mediocre athletes; that is, we were both chosen in the middle of the pack for kickball teams. We both took up running as a lark, beginning with short solo distances — in junior high, I did circuits of the football field while the rest of the class scarfed down miniature pizzas; Bechdel started spontaneously running to visit her grandmother. We both steadily increased this distance, and we both pushed our route to ten miles. Over the course of artistic careers, we’ve both been as dedicated to working up a sweat in a literal sense as we have been to our exertions on the page.

We’ve both gone through similar phases: weight training, long-distance cycling. Why, I positively seized on the fact that Bechdel spurns swimming — a difference! — and has got into yoga, which (so far) I’ve resisted. But over the last 50 years, we’ve both also been subjected to the larger western world’s gathering fixation on fitness, which has overtaken our meagre private labours and crashed over our heads like a 30-foot breaker. Overwhelmingly, then, what Bechdel and I have most in common is that at nearly the same time we both took a step back from what Bechdel calls an accelerating “cardio-pulmonary frenzy” and wrote books about it.

A word from our sponsor: my 2020 novel The Motion of the Body Through Space regards a woman of 60 who’s pursued a rigorous, albeit intensely private, fitness regime since childhood.  At the very point that regime has almost entirely destroyed her knees — so much for those ten-mile runs — her sedentary husband announces he’s going to run a marathon. When he ramps up to the triathlon, for which he engages a sexy younger trainer, the marriage, to put it mildly, is imperilled. The purpose of my project was to examine what in God’s name is propelling this latter-day preoccupation with fitness and whether the trend is a force for ill or good. (Answer: both. Now you needn’t buy the book.)

Yet the graphic novel may be an even better form than the straight prose kind for exploring this topic. Illustration brings to life various forms of self-torture, and Bechdel’s rendering of her multiple exertions throughout the years is dryly self-parodic. The drawings are stylish as well as entertaining. The narrative moves nicely along. Simultaneously detailing her romantic and career travails, Bechdel’s accompanying text is lush enough to parse with some profundity our mysterious exaltation of roundly unproductive suffering. The whole package is presented with more than a soupçon of welcome self-derision. I loved it.

Nevertheless, I confess to some ambivalence about discovering that the powers-that-be created two of me, just in case something unfortunate happened to the spare. One reason people like Bechdel and me avoid competitive sports is that by nature we’re too competitive, and so might take conclusive defeat fatally to heart. Thus the rivalrous devil on my shoulder jeered over these pages, “Oh, yeah?  You’ve biked a hundred miles in a day? Well, I’ve cycled so-called centuries cross-country for months!” I know. Pathetic. Indeed, an aim of both my novel and Bechdel’s is to question why we’ve come to invest so much status in fitness. How come many of us now compare ourselves to others in accordance with who does more repetitions of deltoid dips, even more so than with who earns more money or builds the more dazzling career?

When I started running around the football field at lunch and keeping a secret chart of my daily sit-ups, I imagined that these quirky absorptions were entirely my idea. Now I’m not so sure.  Recognising my double in Alison Bechdel (though she’s massively taller than I am, damn her) made me suspect uneasily that there might be other copies of me out there, hundreds, thousands, even millions.

Rare must be the parent who looks up “1,000 most popular names for girls” and exclaims, “Look! ‘Olivia’ is number one! Let’s call our baby the same name everyone else is choosing!” Something more enigmatic and subconscious propels “Olivia” to that top slot. “Olivia” is in the air. It burrows into the brains of parents-to-be from the side like an earwig. Meanwhile, all those parents who christened a daughter “Olivia” last year thought the name was fresh, unusual, and their idea.

So with fitness. I think both Bechdel and I were suggestible. The nascent cultural obsession with exercise was already in the air. We were early adopters. But we were still earwigged.

I acknowledge this apparent conformity with no pleasure. Like any proper American, I prefer to regard myself as self-created, not as a predictable product of outside forces, like pasta dough forced through the mould for fusilli. But the amount that Bechdel and I have in common cannot be a coincidence. We started out the same loner, high-achiever type and grew up in the same country at the same time.

In one respect the graphic artist and I may part ways. Strewn throughout Superhuman Strength are mini-bios of philosophers and poets: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jack Kerouac. These inserts are a little tedious. The bolstering of Bechdel’s personal story with historical heavy hitters suggests an insecurity about the worthiness of her theme. Writing my own novel about exercise, I shared that insecurity: is this topic meaty enough to justify a book? For me, what came to seem important about the subject was making it seem less important.

Despite her playful, self-deprecating approach, Bechdel portrays her churn through multifarious routes to exhaustion as a form of spiritual seeking. By contrast, I’ve come to see this mystical elevation of exercise as a route to enlightenment as part of the problem — and there is a problem. Obviously, a greater focus on fitness comes with undeniable health benefits, but worship of the hard body is a form of idolatry. Taken to excess, fitness fanaticism naturally nurtures narcissism (the endurance-sport-convert husband in my novel becomes unbearable). What we need is not to go back to being slobs, but to restore a sense of proportion.

Keeping the body in working order is a mechanical matter, one best decoupled from status and virtue. I adore tennis. I happily impute to the sport an element of, yes, spiritual satisfaction — because for me tennis engenders joy in its purest form. By contrast, plain exercise — calisthenics, running when you’re not in the mood (almost always) — is drudgery. Exercise constitutes the dullest part of my day. The fact that I keep doggedly at it is one of the least interesting things about me, and I’d rather talk about almost anything but.

The elevation of fitness to the highest of attainments is a sure sign of a culture grown neurotically inward and stunted. It’s a sign of diminished aspirations. When “self-improvement” entails not learning German but doing star jumps, we’re aiming to clear the lowest of bars. We’re not producing superheroes, but gym bunnies. In the end, no matter how much agony we undergo to build our biceps, those perishable muscles will still atrophy in old age and then end up on the scrap heap — at which point, what have we got to show? We could stand to demote the press-up back to the floor where it belongs.

The whole purpose of maintaining a functional body is to be able to do something else: write books, invent new software, land a rover on Mars. Theoretically, Michelangelo could have spent all his time on chin-ups and never have got round to the Sistine Chapel. Alison Bechdel won’t be remembered for her running time, but for exuberant drawings, droll captions, and candid self-reflection. The West’s obsession with physical strength, perversely, is a weakness.

 

Lionel Shriver’s novel The Motion of the Body Through Space is now out in paperback.


Lionel Shriver is an author, journalist and columnist for The Spectator. Her new book, Mania, is published by the Borough Press.


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Hadyn Oriti
Hadyn Oriti
3 years ago

I exercise to be able to eat and drink what I want. And hopefully get to see 80 in reasonable shape.

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

My sentiments exactly, although I would phrase it more that it keeps me in good condition for all the various things I want to do in life as well as eating and drinking without being too restricted.
So I want to work, travel, commute etc. and not be exhausted.
And of course vanity – it really should be reclassified as a virtue. I am not anything more than averagely good-looking – I do not want to move even further down the league table.

andy thompson
andy thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

I agree Horiti, I too like to ‘work off’ my treats though not obsessively. I always think when I see these crazy joggers frowning, grunting and sweating their pants off that their knees will be years gone whilst I’m still trotting round the block happily with my dog.

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

I cycle a fair bit, mostly commuting but also longer routes, and balance this when I arrive with a pain au chocolat.
I can also laugh at myself. Coming down Barnet Hill a couple of days ago in the pouring rain I decided that I had invented White Water Cycling!
The pleasure in itself is more important than a slight extension at the end of life.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago
Reply to  David Jory

I feel the urge to warn you that it’s not about an extension in terms of age, it’s about having a better old age through better health. Who wants to live to 100 in chronic pain?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Quite right. I absolutely intend not to live with Alzheimers like my father and his parents.

Martin Hodkinson
Martin Hodkinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

Me too, but I’ve found the mental benefits of exercise are the BIGGEST benefit of all, and what keeps me motivated to continue

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

That used to be me. Now it’s more about keeping my blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The Civil Aviation Authority insists that Commercial Pilots over 50 have an ECG every six months.
It gives some warning of Heart Block, Heart Attack and general Atherosclerosis.

It’s cheap and easy to perform but difficult to get on the NHS for reason, that no doubt somebody can explain.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Hadyn Oriti

Exercise is not a very effective weight control method. If you want to effectively control weight, diet is 80% of the game.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
John Aronsson
John Aronsson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

I’ve found that the 20% from exercise component reduces my appetite making the 80% from diet much easier to do.
I really have to do both.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

It seems that the word ‘enjoyment’ is missing in this article. Everybody seems to enjoy sitting in front of their computers, reading things or looking at pictures – presumably this is good. But exercise is something you have to do to keep fit and it, therefore, can’t be enjoyable.
I run about 7 miles most days and it is wonderful. There is a path through the woods and you can hear the birds singing, see squirrels and other wild creatures. It sets up my day and makes me feel great. It is fun. I could use the time to sit and watch tv or look at podcasts – but that is not fun because it is just about words. Words are important but not the only important things in life.
(I could walk but that would take a longer time and would demand more commitment).

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Spot on.
Fortunately I have enough time to walk about 10 miles per day, and wouldn’t run as that would “take more commitment”. 🙂

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Ian Wigg
Ian Wigg
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I’m now 60 and my knees are shot due to years of competitive sport in my youth so running is off the menu but I live in the middle of the countryside, own a young Springer, and have the luxury of free time. This allows me to enjoy the two of us being out in all weather for hours at a time in the woods and fields.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Wigg

Nothing like a Springer to keep one fit. Two is even better.

David Pritchard
David Pritchard
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Wigg

I’m now 62 and at about 52 I had to give up my daily runs of 8 miles a day which I had done for 32 years previously. I now wish I had not though been so obsessive with running. After giving up running I started doing walks but unfortunately my knees are so shot that avenue of pleasure is now closed. So by all means people, stay fit but do what I didn’t, everything in moderation!

Last edited 3 years ago by David Pritchard
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I was about to say something similar. I go to the gym regularly mainly because I enjoy it. If what you’re doing is a drudge, find something else to do that keeps you fit… But keep moving.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Yes, I’m one of a little group gf ageing and derelict former sportsmen who congregate in our local gym two-three times per week. It’s as much a social occasion as anything, but it does keep the weight off and the joints oiled.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mud Hopper
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Omg . Same here. I ENJOY my alternate day 7 km runs. I am in a Zone. A meditative state and when I’m done, I am happy. I too run in the country straight out of my house and am rewarded with wildlife aplenty . On my day off I enjoy the time off with exercise and stretching. Enjoyment being the key theme.
I once walked this route and it was not enjoyable- too slow.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alka Hughes-Hallett
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

At the age of 57 I can’t really run long distance anymore because of Achilles and ACL ruptures, but have taken to walking through 8-10 miles of nature reserves swinging a pair of 4-6kg dumbells, thereby combining weights and cardio with not having to put up with the stupid bloody music in the gym.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Do be careful the local ‘woke-inspired’ local police don’t book you for carrying offensive weapons!

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
3 years ago

Lionel S is one of my favourite columnists. Always interesting, usually right. Clever, principled, doesn’t suffer fools. Thank goodness for her.

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Me too. Totally agree. Some recent articles in theSpectator by Lionel have been given some tough treatment in the comments section. I hope that’s not why she’s here now. Really enjoyed this, Lionel. I have restarted gym with a trainer (I wouldn’t go if I didn’t pay) and even though I hate every second of it, I do acknowledge that I am fitter than before and am able to do more things. So it is working. Trying to encourage my wife to hike with me, losing battle as she hates even more than I hate the gym, even the thought of going for an invigorating hike. It’s just the notion that its good for you that keeps us going, certainly. I suspect that’s true for many.

Liz Davison
Liz Davison
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

I like her too but she made an error and not only voted for Biden but posted her vote very early before the story broke about crooked Hunter. Now she’s complaining about some of Biden’s policies. Speccie readers aren’t huge Trump fans but appreciate that he’d done some good things, now being undone by Biden. I’m afraid Lionel deserves their disapproval.

David J
David J
3 years ago

Back in the 1980s, I partnered for a while with a magazine editor. She was obsessive about her work, but was also a compulsive after-work fitness fanatic.
The overzealous behaviour destroyed her knees. A manic yoga obsession damaged a later partner, who eventually needed two new hip joints.
As for me, I enjoy morning stretches and/or press-ups. A good walk later on, and in summer a cycle ride when I have a free evening.
All outdoors, no gym for me thanks.

Last edited 3 years ago by David J
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

I can’t stand the gym either. They’re mostly a collection point for germs and people who stare at themselves intensely in the mirror while exercising. Both of which are off-putting.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Germs are good. I have led a remarkably unsanitary life and it has given me a robustness to bacteria. Modern children raised in sterile ways are reducing their immunity.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I would like gyms a lot more if it wasn’t for the music.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

I try to do 100 press-ups every day. At the moment I can do 40+ in one go.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
3 years ago

You don’t lose weight through exercise but it is important to keep fit and mobile. I neglected exercise for most of my adulthood and am now trying to make myself fitter with a view to getting to 80 in reasonable shape physically and mentally. It would have been better if I had started much earlier. Youth is sometimes wasted on the young!

Clare Haven
Clare Haven
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Tell that to Tyson Fury who lost 10 stone in a year through extreme physical exercise. Boxing is a weight-class sport and all boxers train intensely to manage and achieve the weight they need to be to be competitive in any given weight-class.
The idea that you don’t lose weight through exercise is a facticious ruse that is primarily intended to placate those who would like to weigh less but aren’t given for whatever reason to intense physical exercise.
If you want to see what being fit and on-weight looks like look to the professionals and they don’t come any fitter than professional boxers. They are in a completely different category.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Clare Haven

That may be true of professional sports people, but not for most of us.
Linking exercise and weight together is very unhelpful as many people use their modicum of exercise to justify their next over-intake of food.
You will never “lose weight with exercise” if your intake exceeds your output.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
J Moore
J Moore
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Indeed. Exercise might burn calories and get rid of fat, but it also helps to build muscle (‘good weight’?), needed for improved strength, better co-ordination and greater general functional capacity. If someone really wants just to lose weigth they need to eat less, and especially junk food.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J Moore

Actually weight bearing exercise raises your metabolism which does help you lose weight. Muscle uses more calories than fat.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Anyone with access to the calorific data of what they are eating (everybody in the UK, for example) and who can make a reasonable stab at how much energy they expend during their exercise (pretty easy to do if you have a Garmin, or if you exercise on a running machine or rowing ergometer with a decent computer) can calculate their energy budget (hint: a deficit equates to weight loss). I don’t much enjoy curtailing the gluttony of my diet, but ditching 1000 calories per day in CV exercise is highly expedient in preventing my being spherical, pre-diabetic, and smellier in summer than I should be.

Sax Guy
Sax Guy
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

You can’t run away from a bad diet.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

If you don’t take sufficient exercise you won’t lose weight or keep it off.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

“Had I known I was going to live for so long I would have taken better care of myself” Billy Noonan.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Youth is always wasted on the young; they don’t appreciate what they have – it’s not their fault, they have known nothing else. If only we could transplant our brains – all that youthful vigour and energy twinned with a lifetimes experience; what might we achieve?

Ben
Ben
3 years ago

I’ve found gardening the best mix of exercise and creativity: the ‘green gym.’ If you can invest in a plot or piece of land and work it as best you can it provides hours of exercise and a huge sense of satisfaction. Mowing, weeding, pruning, cutting, raking and clearing will leave you exhausted but hopefully with a huge sense of satisfaction as you sit down at the end of a summer’s evening with a cool drink and look out on the results of your work. There’s nothing like it.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben

That sounds great. I’ve been interested for a while in perhaps doing a little allotment work, recalling how delicious the vegetables were that my grandparents grew.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben

And it is surprising just how many different muscle sets you use when gardening; you soon find out if you haven’t done much gardening before.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

When I go for a walk, which is free, I often pass a glass-fronted gym in which people are paying to walk on those walking machines. The absurdity of this is so enormous that the mind can barely absorb it.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes, I always think that when I pass by the gyms around my neck of the woods on a beautiful summer evening. Why would you choose to run on a treadmill in a sweaty, germ-infested former office with horrid suspended ceilings (and pay through the nose for the pleasure) when you could be running/cycling on the Danube Island, one of the biggest public leisure areas in Europe – for free???

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Here’s the answer, if you choose to accept facts.

Your walk almost certainly does not accomplish what those “walking machines,” a/k/a treadmills, do, at least if the people in the gym are using them correctly. A treadmill (or stationary bike, elliptical machine, stair climber, et al) is for cardiovascular exercise. That works only if the following two conditions are met:

  • Use it for 45 uninterrupted minutes
  • Exercise with sufficient vigor to cause your heart to beat at 80% of a theoretical “maximum,” which you can determine by subtracting your age from the number 220.

I did not make that up. The above is long-recognized among the exercise physiology types. People who walk outside of a gym rarely achieve those two conditions, if for no other reason that most of them have to cross streets and sidewalks. Outside of a gym, most people can fulfill those conditions only by jogging or bicycling.

I don’t mean to denigrate walking. In fact, I think it’s much better than jogging, which is rough on muscles and joints, especially as people get older. The best way to do effective cardiovascular exercise is on those “walking machines,” or their equivalents. Vigorous swimming works, too, but not many people will swim three times a week for 45 minutes, at the requisite heart rate.

Another plus for the “walking machines” is that they typically measure heart rate, and will adjust speeds, angles, and other resistance to keep the rate at the targeted level.

The biggest benefit of all this is on the heart. You can measure this by keeping track of your resting heart rate and your blood pressure. Do a “cardio” workout three times a week, and meet those conditions, and watch your resting rate and blood pressure decline, which are good signs.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Also: Exercise should be seen as supplementary to weight control, not the main event. With the exception of the truly obsessed, 80% of weight control comes from calorie restriction, while 20% comes from increased exercise.

People who want to lose weight should concentrate on diet, and use exercise as a supplement. To the extent they use exercise, it should be proper cardio routines that tick both of the two items I mentioned above.

There’s more to say, but this is the internet, land of the short attention span. I know what I am talking about, and used all of this to reduce from 203 pounds to 160 pounds. Not easy, but it’s scientifically bulletproof, based mainly on 102-year-old research.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

I only have the one body so I’m going to look after it and that includes regular exercise. I won’t live forever by doing this but I want to live as long as I can in as good a shape as I can be.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Being overly fit shortens life span. Just being pretty fit is the best for longevity. I would guess the sort of fitness the above 2 people have will take years off their life in fact – this is by seeing my relatives who seem to live for ever. The couple who were overly fit passed a decade before the regular ones. I have seen this everywhere as well. In the past the men who worked the extreme hard work always died off at 62, wile the retired office workers kicked around another couple decades.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’m no doctor, but I always wonder if the heart is a ‘lifed component’ – ie even when maintained to design intent, is only fit for a certain number of cycles. Persistently taxing the organ and putting excessive miles on the clock may not be a route to immortality.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Josh

This is also true of cartilage, bones, and most connective tissue which is long term.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Josh

Your heart has about two thousand six hundred millions beats in it.
So use them wisely, or you will need a retread.

ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago

Another reason many exercise is peoples’ love of routine in their lives, especially when they can switch off. Intense exercise is a great way of blocking out/re-channeling some real stress people suffer constructively.
Great article, love ur writing.

Peter Ian Staker
Peter Ian Staker
3 years ago

‘The elevation of fitness to the highest of attainments is a sure sign of a culture grown neurotically inward and stunted. It’s a sign of diminished aspirations.’
I agree with this, but perhaps in a society where people are detached from the products of their labours, exercise, however pointless, gives them a positive feedback response they need. I do think in some ways caring too much about these things is a substitute for not being able to care about more interesting and important things. It is displaced from meaningless work.
I was hoping you would go off on a rant against gym culture. At least you don’t feel you have to post all your workouts online or spend hundreds of pounds on gym membership and gear.
I often look at people who are really good at running and think what motivates them to push themselves. Perhaps they convince themselves that it is all their innate drive etc but it is very difficult to detach the individual from the social. I suppose what people worry about is that they spend their lives doing things they don’t want to do to impress people they don’t like.

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

One motivating factor, I believe, is the feeling of rhythm and flow that you get as you reach a good level of running. I find that particularly when I’m fell running, as the movement over rough terrain has to be smooth and calculated. This is a physical challenge that demands agility and concentration.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

I love sport. I’ve been a runner since the age of 11, completing 3 marathons and more half-marathons than I can remember. I cycle, hike and climb and can’t bear going more than 4 days without doing some form of physical exercise.
All these lockdowns (some of which have stopped me from using the public transport to go running) lead me to do more home workouts and engage with some of the new fitness influencers. Some of them (Heather Robertson, for example) are very relatable and their workouts are varied and fun.
Where I really came unstuck was Pamela Reif, the German fitness super-influencer. I like the challenge of her workouts (I love a goal to work towards) but it is surely a disturbing sign of the times that she is regarded as a “strong woman” and is an icon for many young girls.
It does take a bit of nous to create such a successful personal brand and so I’m not prepared to do her down entirely…but I saw her interviewed once and she was the most shallow, boring, personality-free person. She probably didn’t want to say anything that could be misinterpreted and damage her brand, and, given today’s overheated morals, I understand that to some degree. But she just wasn’t interesting. Just a Barbie with a six-pack, spewing out some tropes about what her wedding dress is going to look like.
It left me wondering what “strong” means these days. Are young girls thinking that a “bubble butt” or a six-pack is enough to make them strong? Does it just mean “physically strong” – completely ignoring other talents, skills, and personality traits? A physically fit appearance is all well and good but it’s the setting goals and having the discipline to achieve them that is character forming aspect of sport. It doesn’t matter whether the goal is to get through a 10-minute ab-buster without giving up or walking to the top of the street without getting out of breath. Goals are goals and having a purpose is a powerful thing. Bulging biceps alone do not a great personality make.

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Simric Yarrow
Simric Yarrow
3 years ago

My favourite form of exercise is dance, which is also a creative experience, and often a way to interact socially using other modes of intelligence that only the body provides: a different language. I’m also lucky enough to live close to mountains and beaches where exercise is way of spending time in company of natural beauty (and my friends). It’s telling that Lionel says what we should really be up to is learning German and other “heady” pursuits, and he hasn’t yet tried yoga. The kind of exercise I do is one of the most exciting things I love in my life, because of what else comes with it, and I do think the kind of exercise he’s on about sounds a very dry affair.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Simric Yarrow

Lionel is a woman, a real one (if I’m allowed to say that).

andy thompson
andy thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Probably not Clair, they do say they are ‘all women’ but I’m totally with you on this

Last edited 3 years ago by andy thompson
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Simric Yarrow

if even Lionel has “changed her pronouns” (sic) then no form of exercise will save us 🙂

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

very good.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Some people really enjoy the gym and working out. Others don’t. Some just walk or play tennis or golf. Seems like we should just allow everyone to choose what they like to do without much commentary since it really isn’t anyone else’s business what sort of exercise, if any, anyone else does. When did it become necessary to weigh in on the personal likes and dislikes of others this way?
“The whole purpose of maintaining a functional body is to be able to do something else”
Not for everyone. If you are a professional football player, your purpose in exercising is not entirely about doing something else. Sometimes it’s actually part of your job. Same if you’re an ice skater or a model or a fire fighter. There are any number of reasons, professional and otherwise, someone would want or need to exercise a certain way to maintain a functional body. Sometimes simply because it feels better to them.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Hal Lives
Hal Lives
3 years ago

About 40yrs ago I was hospitalized with a brain infection that was killing me; the condition was so rare that by the time they found a specialist who could treat me I was in a coma.
When I woke up I was blind for another week, blood clots on my optic nerves, and the infection had spread throughout my body; I had a heart murmur, shadows on my lungs, and at one point my kidneys started to shut down.
The treatment was basically massive quantities of antibiotics delivered through a PICC line. The docs had to ask my mother for permission to treat me as the odds of my surviving it were 60/40 against me (anything in sufficient quantity is toxic).
At the time I was doing martial arts twice a week, and cardio/weights three times a week, it was the fittest I’d ever been, and, according to the specialist, that’s what allowed me to survive the treatment; if I’d been the average couch potato I wouldn’t have made it.
So now that I’ve had my second shot of OAZ and the World, or at least my corner of it, is returning to some semblance of normality, I’ll be glad to get back in the gym and work on my cardio; the occasional push up and sit up I can do at home.

Sue Julians
Sue Julians
3 years ago

I’m a physio. What is the challenge for me is to help people find the exercise they need to keep pain free but also to give them other benefits.
Some people are competitive, like to set goals, like to beat others. Some are internally driven, like exercise as a meditation, the feeling that their body, as a machine, is working.
For me, the actual exercise is less important than the continuation of it. And for that, you need to find the right exercise to fit the personality as well as the body.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Sue Julians

That’s a good point. Pain reduction is sometimes a benefit of exercise.

Sue Julians
Sue Julians
3 years ago

Pain reduction, and pain prevention. The older you get, the less you can take your body for granted too.
Physio patients split evenly into those who’ve damaged themselves by moving, and those who’ve damaged themselves by not moving enough. My caseload is primarily the latter.
IME if you do not find an exercise that gives people additional benefits, they will stop doing it as soon as their pain resolves. Then you have a revolving door of repeated episodes of pain.

andy thompson
andy thompson
3 years ago

First time I’ve ever read you Lionel and it certainly wont be my last.

Clare Haven
Clare Haven
3 years ago
Reply to  andy thompson

Her pieces in the Spectator are wonderful too. Think she writes for quite a few outlets.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
3 years ago

The elevation of fitness to the highest of attainments is a sure sign of a culture grown neurotically inward and stunted.”
Probably, but isn’t the reason a lot of people exercise is our culture-wide obsession with being attractive looking to others? A path to being loved? And in a world where loneliness is recognised as a major social problem I guess people do go to gyms for social contact. A lot of houses these days don’t have gardens … perhaps people just feel the lack of exercise they used to get from gardening and yard work.
Summer or winter I go to the beach every morning for a swim – I’m not a swimmer, so no competitive exertions, I just know how good I will feel in the water and just after the swim. How could you have an appetite for breakfast without getting yourself a bit revved up beforehand? And after all, what is the point of Australia if you can’t have a swim before work?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago

This article is too long so I didn’t finish it. I would just like to say that I really enjoy the weight training I do. It helps keep me happy. Hope that’s ok..

Edward Hamer
Edward Hamer
3 years ago

Spot on: “The whole purpose of maintaining a functional body is to be able to do something else”. What I find hardest (as a very moderate but consistent exerciser) is that I exercise so as to have the strength and fitness for the rest of life, yet exercise is also the riskiest thing I do: I’m recovering from a herniated disk at present, and I’ve had shoulder pain and tennis elbow from exercising before.
That really bothers me, and sometimes seems to undermine the whole purpose of exercise. What good is it becoming better at deadlifts if you become incapable of picking up your children in the process?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

As always the Ancients got there first and did it better.

The word Gymnasium* derives from the Ancient Greek adjective, ‘Gymnos’, meaning naked. All exercise was carried out naked, both in the Gymnasium and in the four great Panhellenic Games, of which the Olympic was the oldest. The only exception was the ‘Race in full armour”.

Spartan women exercised and wrestled naked, although it is uncertain whether other Greek women did.

By the time Rome had taken control, all the magnificent Public Baths were equipped with an adjoining Gymnasium, sometimes referred to as a Palaestra ( originally from the Greek word for wrestling).

Normally there were double facilities for both men & women, who all it is thought exercised naked. The advantage of this system is that fatties, the circumcised and other unfortunates could be ridiculed and shamed, as one would expect in a robust society such as Ancient Rome.
The poet Martial has some amusing comments on the subject.

Sadly the arrival State sponsored Semitic Christianity in about 390 AD, gradually put an end to such fun, and we descended into the deep sleep of pruriency, from which we have yet to fully awake.

(* A good example is to be found in Pompeii, at the far of the site, close to the Amphitheater.)

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
3 years ago

Thank you so much for such an interesting post.

Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
3 years ago

Ah fitness
 a thousand people telling you how great they are

 a thousand people telling you what’s best

a thousand people telling you what’s bad


Fitness is personal. What other people do is irrelevant. Only compete with yourself and do what makes you happy. Live a long life!

Peter Boreham
Peter Boreham
3 years ago

Lockdown has changed my perspective. Now, my regular runs are an oasis of action and outdoors in a dessert of sitting at my desk all day…

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago

I enjoy Shriver’s candid and insightful writing. She is right about overdoing exercise but I suggest she should try forms of exercise that aren’t drudgery, such as walking in beautiful but hard to reach places, dancing and yes, yoga. Sustainable, enjoysble forms of exercise help to keep decrepitude at bay, both physically and mentally.

simon taylor
simon taylor
3 years ago

At risk of sounding like a stalker- happy birthday for yesterday.I love your writing.

naillik48
naillik48
3 years ago

I’m in my mid 70s and keeping fit is a great enabler for hot sex, we find.

Liz Davison
Liz Davison
3 years ago

I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation a few years ago and my cardiologist recommended brisk walking as it helps to regulate the heart. Well it’s boring. I’m 71 and don’t want to damage my joints so I now use my husband’s rowing machine which tones the whole body. I now have a firmer abdomen, stronger arms, legs and shoulders and fewer instances of arrhythmia. This from three 15-20 minute sessions a week. I have a large garden and spend a lot of time in it once spring comes and we have a small pool (we’re in Montpellier) so I swim every day from mid-June to mid-September but that’s it. I’m blessed with a naturally slim body which helps. I’d recommend the rowing to anyone with knee problems as gravity plays no part.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

Surely any obsession is a weakness? It is a sign of imbalance.
I dislike exercise so I joined a costly gym because I’m too frugal to pay and not go. I dislike walking because you can’t stop when you’ve had enough. (Having written that, I enjoy walking when I visit friends in the country!)

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Top tip – plan circular walks that give you early exit points if you feel like one.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I would do that if I lived in the country rather than in paved suburbia!

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

You can walk a circular route in suburbia too. In fact, you can do it anywhere. It’s a great tip – one I learned after double knee replacement surgeries. I was never sure how far I could walk so I purposely walked a circular route so it wasn’t a mile or two out and then have to return the same distance. All in suburbia.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

You can walk a circular route in suburbia too. In fact, you can do it anywhere. It’s a great tip – one I learned after double knee replacement surgeries. I was never sure how far I could walk so I purposely walked a circular route so it wasn’t a mile or two out and then have to return the same distance. All in suburbia.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I would do that if I lived in the country rather than in paved suburbia!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Top tip – plan circular walks that give you early exit points if you feel like one.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

Surely any obsession is a weakness? It is a sign of imbalance.
I dislike exercise so I joined a costly gym because I’m too frugal to pay and not go. I dislike walking because you can’t stop when you’ve had enough. (Having written that, I enjoy walking when I visit friends in the country!)

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

we’ve both also been subjected to the larger western world’s gathering fixation on fitness, 
Is this fixation why obesity is such a first-world health problem? Perhaps the Covid toll would be less if only a few more people took some interest in their health.
My gym routine is just fine, thank you. It serves both a physical and mental purpose. My only gripe with it is the (mostly) younger people who can’t set down their smartphones long to do what they came to do and clog the place. I have far more respect for the visibly out of shape person who is there giving it an honest effort.
This reads like the petty whining of a schoolgirl. If exercise is not your thing, fine. No one is forced into participation at gunpoint. And very few people work out to the point of obsession. No form of obsession is good.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago

Interesting. Every commenter so far has left unmentioned the historic link of ‘askesis’ (self-punishing regimes e.g. fierce unrelenting physical effort, excessive dieting, anorexia) of which modern ‘exercise’ is a camouflaged paradigm case, with religion. The tendency to take it to extremes is typical.
Yet it has for millennia been one of the most common forms of religious expression. In India such regimes are still common, as they are in the ‘orient’.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Let’s be realistic. Taking exercise to extremes is not the problem. In society today, the problem is not getting any exercise.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Let’s be realistic. Taking exercise to extremes is not the problem. In society today, the problem is not getting any exercise.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago

Interesting. Every commenter so far has left unmentioned the historic link of ‘askesis’ (self-punishing regimes e.g. fierce unrelenting physical effort, excessive dieting, anorexia) of which modern ‘exercise’ is a camouflaged paradigm case, with religion. The tendency to take it to extremes is typical.
Yet it has for millennia been one of the most common forms of religious expression. In India such regimes are still common, as they are in the ‘orient’.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
3 years ago

Let me interrupt this program to wholeheartedly endorse LS’s novel. It’s very funny, and I loved it.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
3 years ago

Let me interrupt this program to wholeheartedly endorse LS’s novel. It’s very funny, and I loved it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

In the end, no matter how much agony we undergo to build our biceps, those perishable muscles will still atrophy in old age and then end up on the scrap heap — at which point, what have we got to show?”
Usually a headstone or an urn. But what a silly reason not exercise if you enjoy it. I won’t be here forever so why bother even if I sleep better and feel better with some exercise? No wonder half the country is obese. If they are listening to mush like this.
The author also misses the enormous mental benefits of exercise.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

People exercise beyond normal activities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Vanity – good reason
  • Cardiovascular health – great reason
  • Weight loss – not nearly as effective as assumed
  • They just like to – great reason
Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Among others, yes. It may be a job requirement, for example. It may be a goal, climbing a specific mountain, for example, participating in a decathlon.
It may be a mental health issue. We have all heard of a runners high. It’s addicting (apparently). Grief can be another reason, some people lose themselves in physical activity as emotional support. Being judgmental over someone’s reason is inappropriate. Unless your name is Karen, of course.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Yes, I did exclude the nutcases. But “runner’s high” is not by itself a mental health issue. It may well fall into the “just like to” category. It did when I was younger. As for your objection to my being “judgmental,” thanks for the laugh, Karen. LOL

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

It often is to runners. Many of them cannot do without it.
I don’t believe people having a reason you disagree with makes anyone a nutcase. But it’s fun that you call someone a nutcase while simultaneously objecting to being called judgmental. Btw, calling someone Karen after your Kareness has been pointed out is beyond lame.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Why are you so judgmental? You are beginning to sound like a nutcase. LOL

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Isn’t that a tad judgmental?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Absolutely. I make judgments, and so do you. Only one of us objects. The other one of us is laughing at you. LOL

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Apparently you have never been called on it. First time for everything, eh?
Maybe you should expound on why people make judgements about the exercise of others. And indicate whether it’s a good reason or a bad reason. Your wisdom would be invaluable.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

I have been called on it by other loosely tethered, amusing, oblivious nutcases. Not just you. The world is full of Karens. LOL

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Oh I would guess you’ve been called on a lot of things.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Und Sie, Karen? LOL

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Well, I’m happy for people to have their own reasons as they aren’t really my business. Perhaps I am not bothered enough by other’s reasons to be judgmental about them.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

So am I, even when I am judgmental. In fact, the dumber the reason the better, because it never hurt anyone to have a laugh.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

good thing I don’t much care, eh?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
That makes two of us. Posting snarky comments is not a sign of caring. Besides, who needs all that b.s. "empathy" when judging strangers is so much more fun?
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

You apparently.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

Have you ever tried sculpting or painting Murals, up a scaffold? Michelangelo must have had some biceps!
On a prosaic note my 96 year old Mum, still lives in her own house, polishes the veneer of her furniture and washes her net curtains every 3 months. I have never seen her run, ever!
Just keep active. The thought that Lionel might read this, brings this 60 years old out in goosebumps. Smiley face, kiss.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

Have you ever tried sculpting or painting Murals, up a scaffold? Michelangelo must have had some biceps!
On a prosaic note my 96 year old Mum, still lives in her own house, polishes the veneer of her furniture and washes her net curtains every 3 months. I have never seen her run, ever!
Just keep active. The thought that Lionel might read this, brings this 60 years old out in goosebumps. Smiley face, kiss.

Madeleine Armstrong
Madeleine Armstrong
3 years ago

This is brilliant!! Thank you for articulating what has long disturbed me about the fitness craze. The idolisation and obsessive pursuit of peak physical performance, for its own sake, is a bleakly limited goal.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

That’s one view. Perhaps some of your goals would not be appreciated by others. Does that mean you shouldn’t have them?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Few people who work out fit that description. You are “disturbed” because you want to be disturbed.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

That’s one view. Perhaps some of your goals would not be appreciated by others. Does that mean you shouldn’t have them?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Few people who work out fit that description. You are “disturbed” because you want to be disturbed.

Madeleine Armstrong
Madeleine Armstrong
3 years ago

This is brilliant!! Thank you for articulating what has long disturbed me about the fitness craze. The idolisation and obsessive pursuit of peak physical performance, for its own sake, is a bleakly limited goal.

imackenzie56
imackenzie56
3 years ago

I bike and walk so I can drink more beer and I lift so I can stave off the humiliation of weakness as long as possible. Nobody said it would be fun, but sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t–like anything.

imackenzie56
imackenzie56
3 years ago

I bike and walk so I can drink more beer and I lift so I can stave off the humiliation of weakness as long as possible. Nobody said it would be fun, but sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t–like anything.

sln
sln
3 years ago

As a retiree I want to remain vigorous in my final chapters. I enjoy the gym and engage in primarily strength and agility training. I believe that as a result I have better balance and minimal back issues despite an aging spine. Finally I enjoy the friends I have acquired over the years in the gym, many from walks of life I would have never otherwise encountered. Life is good.

sln
sln
3 years ago

As a retiree I want to remain vigorous in my final chapters. I enjoy the gym and engage in primarily strength and agility training. I believe that as a result I have better balance and minimal back issues despite an aging spine. Finally I enjoy the friends I have acquired over the years in the gym, many from walks of life I would have never otherwise encountered. Life is good.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

I have always thought that humans are predominately ‘walking’ creatures and that running was reserved for escaping danger of one sort or another, or for that short burst of speed needed to capture an escaping child, catch a bus or train – that sort of thing; or maybe running into the sea, bowl a cricket ball and such. Watching the joggers go by, pained, red faces puffing and blowing, all hot and bothered and gripping their sides – I think where’s the fun in that? Apart from which their insides are being shaken up like a Martini, organs smacking into each other causing bruising or other damage. And think of those knees, ankles, hips and other joints colliding like two hammers being struck together – not to mention the brain bouncing around the skull like a lottery ball. No wonder you never see joggers smiling. Then there are the ‘speed’ walkers, marching apace as though they had a hot pea jammed between their buttocks; arms pumping through the air, clenched jaws and determined faces – must reach the finish line before dropping the pea.
I enjoy a brisk walk, when you can hear the birds, see the countryside and have a conversation, the whole process is enjoyable. Heart rate goes up, pulmonary, lymphatic and blood systems get a workout and you come back energised and, unless you twist your ankle or fall over, uninjured. What’s not to like?

Last edited 3 years ago by Geoff H
Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

I have always thought that humans are predominately ‘walking’ creatures and that running was reserved for escaping danger of one sort or another, or for that short burst of speed needed to capture an escaping child, catch a bus or train – that sort of thing; or maybe running into the sea, bowl a cricket ball and such. Watching the joggers go by, pained, red faces puffing and blowing, all hot and bothered and gripping their sides – I think where’s the fun in that? Apart from which their insides are being shaken up like a Martini, organs smacking into each other causing bruising or other damage. And think of those knees, ankles, hips and other joints colliding like two hammers being struck together – not to mention the brain bouncing around the skull like a lottery ball. No wonder you never see joggers smiling. Then there are the ‘speed’ walkers, marching apace as though they had a hot pea jammed between their buttocks; arms pumping through the air, clenched jaws and determined faces – must reach the finish line before dropping the pea.
I enjoy a brisk walk, when you can hear the birds, see the countryside and have a conversation, the whole process is enjoyable. Heart rate goes up, pulmonary, lymphatic and blood systems get a workout and you come back energised and, unless you twist your ankle or fall over, uninjured. What’s not to like?

Last edited 3 years ago by Geoff H
mindovermud
mindovermud
3 years ago

Thought Id try a bit of jogging (in my late 60’s), to help stretch my ligaments, hamstrings etc. and to give the lungs a bit of a work out…. gave up smoking 12yrs ago….. Long story short; after 2-3 morning sessions trying to go around small local park, battling breathlessness and later waking up in morn with stressed legs. I realised my knee had swollen and I’d trashed what was left of left knee cartilage. X-ray said bone-on-bone….So cycling/ swimming yes,(in moderation) running NO!
PS: Am currently trying out knee muscle strengthening exercises, and attempting cartilege regrowth programs Can walk fairly comfortably for about an hour and wil try to keep and improve what Ive still go as I dont want my knee surgery..

mindovermud
mindovermud
3 years ago

Thought Id try a bit of jogging (in my late 60’s), to help stretch my ligaments, hamstrings etc. and to give the lungs a bit of a work out…. gave up smoking 12yrs ago….. Long story short; after 2-3 morning sessions trying to go around small local park, battling breathlessness and later waking up in morn with stressed legs. I realised my knee had swollen and I’d trashed what was left of left knee cartilage. X-ray said bone-on-bone….So cycling/ swimming yes,(in moderation) running NO!
PS: Am currently trying out knee muscle strengthening exercises, and attempting cartilege regrowth programs Can walk fairly comfortably for about an hour and wil try to keep and improve what Ive still go as I dont want my knee surgery..

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

After loving team sports as a fairly gifted youngster, cycling 10 miles to work at 6am was great as it wasn’t ‘exercise’ and you had to get home too so it had built in discipline. I don’t have an obsessive nature so I don’t keep routines for long. That said, the great brain surgeon Henry Marsh is clear that, fit or not, terrible things can hit one at any stage of life but he runs as much as he can to pump blood around the brain and do something vs dementia so I keep that going on his example.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

After loving team sports as a fairly gifted youngster, cycling 10 miles to work at 6am was great as it wasn’t ‘exercise’ and you had to get home too so it had built in discipline. I don’t have an obsessive nature so I don’t keep routines for long. That said, the great brain surgeon Henry Marsh is clear that, fit or not, terrible things can hit one at any stage of life but he runs as much as he can to pump blood around the brain and do something vs dementia so I keep that going on his example.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

When I hear exercise gym freak ego/addicts pontificate about their ‘ no pain no gain’ sweat pride, my mind goes back to Army Pirbright, Sandhurst and then Airborne depot Aldershot, and how they would survive when a gang of PTIs in boots , denims and T shirts running backwards with whistles in their mouths decided when the ‘ no pain no gain’ agony should stop… the answer is ‘ not very long’….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

When I hear exercise gym freak ego/addicts pontificate about their ‘ no pain no gain’ sweat pride, my mind goes back to Army Pirbright, Sandhurst and then Airborne depot Aldershot, and how they would survive when a gang of PTIs in boots , denims and T shirts running backwards with whistles in their mouths decided when the ‘ no pain no gain’ agony should stop… the answer is ‘ not very long’….

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago

I would love to swim again, but for swimmers’ ear, which leaves my ears itchy and burning, despite using earplugs. Anybody have non antibiotic solutions?
Not too sure about sports requiring public showers though. One manages breasts and weight differences, but there is just tmi these days with everyone’s genitals shaved bare. Way tmi…I just don’t think I should have to know.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

A friend of mine uses a mixture of pure alcohol and water with a drop of white vinegar, this dries out the ear after a swim, but please check quantities from a trustworthy source before trying. He swears by it.
It might not be suitable if you have sensitive ears.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
ashtreeimages
ashtreeimages
3 years ago

Wow, everyone and their spouse seem to be publishing a novel these days. You’d think all these stories would’ve been told and retold a thousand times each by now.

Jose A. Menchero
Jose A. Menchero
3 years ago

test

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

A question for the author: Why did you feel compelled to mention your being gay in an article where it has absolutely no relevance? Asking for a friend. LOL

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

I understood Shriver to be saying that Bechdel is gay, and she mentioned it only to point out how similar they seem to be except for that. I could be wrong, but I’m not going to go back up to the top to read it again.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

Fell running. Not that I am going to do it, but I did read about it, and that seems to be a sure route to physical strength in old age. I recall the story of an 85 year old fell runner who was something of a legend. He died when he tripped and fell into a bog while out running, which is awful, but he was apparently super fit even at that advanced age.

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago

Question.
Does exercise allow you to switch off your mind?
As someone who thinks too much but is physically active without a gym routine, I don’t know because I have no experience. However, I can see the potential attraction of something that effectvely stops you thinking and thereby allows the brain to recharge.

M G
M G
3 years ago

cope

M G
M G
3 years ago

cope