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Hate exercise and just want the health benefits?

In an older post called What’s love got to do with it? I addressed the plight of the person who doesn’t like exercise.

Usually around here we’re all about finding fitness things that you love, but we get that not everybody likes physical activity or makes a choice to make it part of their lives.

It’s tough making choices. Yet our lives are finite and make choices we must. I don’t read as much fiction as I’d like and right now there’s a giant stack of books by my bedside and a fully loaded kindle but usually by the time bed time rolls around I flop into bed exhausted.

I’ve also got a long list of movies I’d like to see. There are movies I want to see that leave town before I get a chance because I’m too busy running, biking, lifting, and throwing people around in the dojo.

And that’s just the stuff I like. There’s a whole bunch of activities that other people do that I don’t do very much of at all. There isn’t a crafty gene in my body. Not even knitting which is a hugely popular feminist pastime. Everyone else in my family sings or plays a musical instrument. Not me. I’m in the audience.

I like the idea of cooking and baking. I read cookbooks with pleasure but actual cooking, no, not so much. Pretty much holidays only. The rest of the time I prepare meals but to call it cooking is to overstate the case.

And then there’s my house. I pay some one to clean it..Thanks Margaret! …and home decorating isn’t something I’m good at. Really with all the teenagers and dogs it’s a good thing I don’t care too much.

All of this is just to say, that I don’t lead a particularly well rounded life. I play games, I spend time with friends and family, I read, write and teach philosophy, I blog, but there’s an awful lot I don’t do. No big regrets. I do want to dance more and wear more party dresses, get into the big city more often, but that’s about it.

So I can see how someone might make other choices. Not everyone chooses to spend their time doing physical things. Now some people don’t care about health very much and that’s okay too. As Patricia Marino points out not everyone prioritizes living longer.

But if you want the health benefits but still hate exercise, what then?

In the older post, I recommended treating it like medicine.

If you care about your health but hate physical activity, then treat it like medicine. No one expects you to enjoy your flu shot. I sometimes eat vegetables I don’t enjoy because they’re good for me. I get that it can feel doubly coercive to both be told your have to do something and told you have to love it. You don’t have to do it and you don’t have to love it. But you can do it without loving it too. If I were just exercising for its benefits, I’d go for high intensity interval training. It’s short, time efficient and brutally effective. See Gretchen Reynolds’ column on minimalist workouts.

I’d also do some weight training and I’d build lots of exercise into my everyday activities.

So you don’t have to love it. But we do!

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