EXERCISE – love it or hate it – it’s important. The benefits of exercise had been known since the days of the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates wrote of the benefits in 400 B.C. as a way to ensure good health. However, it wasn’t until 1953 when Dr. Jerry Morris, credited as “the man who invented exercise” published his research findings in Lancet magazine in which he made the connection between exercise and health – thus launching an 80 billion dollar industry.
Like the internet, Reality TV and taxes, exercise is here to stay. “Good things come to those who sweat.” “The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.” “Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate.” These are three of millions of quotes about the benefits of exercise…attributed to ‘anonymous’. I guess these folks didn’t use their names because they were afraid of being tarred and feathered by those who aren’t quite as sold on the concept of exercise as they are.
There’s an exercise spectrum with couch potatoes on one end and Jack LaLanne, the Godfather of Modern Fitness, on the other. In years past, I was one of ‘those people’ – up at 5:30, in the gym by 6 spending at least an hour grunting, lifting, and sweating a minimum of four times a week at the YMCA, or Planet Fitness or Joe’s Body Building Torture Chamber. My attendance at these temples of body perfection started strong with strength, aerobic and group exercises. As the years passed and my joints got a little cranky and the metabolism slowed to a stop, I found myself leaning towards the couch potato. The alarm seldom got set, the covers felt warmer and the thought of a bacon, egg and pancake breakfast lulled me back to sleep. I still liked working out but the thought of driving 30 minutes overpowered the will to get up, get dressed and go do it. “How can I exercise without the pain of driving?” I asked myself and the answer was obvious a home gym! The next investment in the pursuit of the perfect body was exercise equipment. Tread mills, elliptical machines, weights, kettle bells, jump ropes, and elastic strength bands became part of ‘Rosie’s Gym’ as my husband affectionately called it. I did however, refuse to purchase exercise videos. Who would ever want to watch someone who have never lost a battle to a piece of Death by Chocolate cake, a bag of Vinegar and Sea Salt chips or a pint of Rocky Road ice cream? Overtime, the treadmill and elliptical were pushed in the corner used only to hang clothes, the weights moved into the garage and the rest donated, tossed or given to others along with the associated guilt.
We can’t deny the importance of exercise. Dr. Morris lived until 99; to celebrate his 70th birthday, LaLanne swam 1.5 miles along the California coast from the Queen’s Way Bridge to Long Beach Harbor wearing handcuffs and shackles on his arms and legs while towing 70 row boats holding 70 people and today and, just in the US, there are more than 55 million fitness center members. So I’m back on my new rower resolved to do more than wrestle with my conscience, run my mouth, take leaps of faith, and jump to conclusions. Jane Fonda, eat your heart out!