Less is More… Or is it?

Minimalism (or at least talk of minimalism) seems back in fashion now. Probably everyone has heard of Marie Kondo’s wildly popular book on decluttering one’s house (and life). We are advised to keep only those things that “spark joy”. In other words, it’s out with this:

 

clutter

 

and in with this:

 

zen

But what about sports or physical activities?  Should we embrace minimalism in our physical regimens?  Or variety  as the spice of fitness life?  Is less really more, or is more more?

I’ve recently taken on 3 additional sports/activities to my movement regimen. Last year I restarted kayaking, and have really enjoyed it. In January I joined a yoga studio and have been going once or twice a week. And after impulsively doing two recreational scuba dives in Australia, I decided to get certified in scuba, so am taking a course now (to be completed in Puerto Rico in a week).

Of course this is fun, but it is making my schedule much more crowded, giving me less down time, and causing me to think: what am I doing here? How may different kinds of activities do I want to juggle in my life? If it feels like juggling, should I be doing it?

I decided to put together a list of the pros of each position in the hopes that it might help at last clarify the conflicts within us (or at least me ).

Less is more pros

1) Lighter–with fewer sports, there’s less to think about, and less gear to haul around, store and maintain.

2) Potentially cheaper — it could mean fewer expenditures on a variety of lessons, memberships, and gear.

3) Simpler– workout schedules are less complex and hectic, with fewer logistical struggles (e.g. Collecting, packing, loading and hauling a variety of gear around– is anyone sensing a theme here?)

4) More focused– Time can be devoted to immersing yourself in a few favored sports or activities. And you can really master the maintenance and repair of all that gear.

More is more pros

1) Thrilling– the exhilaration of trying a new sport, with new sensations and feelings (even new sorenesses) can be stimulating.  And there’s all that new gear to play with.
 

fins

 

2) Social—it’s a chance to meet people whose passions are the sport/activity you’re dabbling in (this is my favorite feature).

3) Motivating—because you’re participating in a variety of sports, if you’re having a tough time with one of them, you have the others for helping boost self-confidence or relaxation.

4) Knowledge-conferring (pardon the philosopher talk)—doing sports/activities that use different systems, muscles, skills, and talents can tell you a lot about what your body is like and what your body likes.

Well, at the end of composing those lists, I now think I’ll keep to more is more. But it’s worth revisiting from time to time to see what I am liking doing, what is causing too much stress, and what I can lay aside (including boxing up gear and storing it in my basement). For now.

What about you, readers? Are you going through a more-is-more or a less-is-more period? How are you feeling about it?

About catherine w

I'm an analytic philosopher, retooled as a public health ethicist. I'm interested in heath behavior change, particularly around eating and activity, and how things other than knowledge affect our health decisions.I'm also a cyclist (road, off-road, commuter), squash player, x skier, occasional yoga-doer, hiker, swimmer and leisurely walker.

12 thoughts on “Less is More… Or is it?

  1. Jean says:

    No I’m not doing more different sports. A few years ago I realized I had way too many cycling jerseys

    Now I’m grateful..because it allowed me to split my cycling clothing, bike helmets and bikes between 2 cities where I live. I never pack cycling gear when commuting between the 2 cities (actually it’s 2 provinces).

    More different sports sometimes does cost money at the beginning. I think it would be interesting if someone could draw the effect of unemployment or poverty on adults and exercise.

    We have to be careful…more different sports can mean some money investment which some people can’t afford.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jean says:

      Maybe a better explanation for just myself: exercise is not the only “more” that’s at the top of my mind. There are 1-2 other non-exercise personal passions I need to pursue to make myself “complete” of who I am and what natural skills I have, yet not developed much.

      No question, cycling for touring purposes with our own gear, certainly has opened up a world in a ways I never dreamt to experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreeing here with Jean – not really having time or money for different sports puts a limit on what I can do. I stick with walking, running, yoga – these do not need much equipment other than good shoes and socks, and I do have a mat – and weight/strength training since I can afford to be a member of a gym.

    Actually, though, now that I think about it those 4 things are “more” for me since I have never been very active before. Just the fact that I have running shoes and can run a mile, and can do 3 pushups, is great progress for me. So in that sense, I would agree that “more is more” – but my idea of what is a lot of different types of exercise (or, “more”) is different from someone who has been more active or into competitive sports than me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • catherine womack says:

      HI– that definitely sounds like “more” to me, in a bunch of ways. It’s more active, more fun, more satisfaction. In the course of writing the post and after I’ve been rethinking the gear-intensive nature of some of the activities I do. Feet, shoes, yoga mat, and sunshine all provide nice ways of moving our bodies, and I love that too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thanks for the reply! That’s a good way to look at it. Also I’m reading Marie Kondo’s book now and really loving the message to surround yourself as much as possible with things that spark joy… and for me walks and yoga definitely rank at the top of things that give me the most satisfaction. Honestly weight training and running are things I do so that I can take long hikes whenever I get the chance (which is not as often as I’d like!)

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  3. Sam B says:

    I’m a more is more person. Love all the things. Biking, yoga, Aikido, running, lifting, boxing….

    A benefit aside from no boredom, also fewer injuries.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tracy I says:

    As someone who has tried more is more for a few years I think I am learning that I’m not that type. I really gravitate towards less is more and for that reason I think I have actually decided that triathlon is too much for me. I enjoyed it as part of the fittest by 50 challenge and I’ll finish Kincardine but I am tired of trying to fit it all in.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. siglindesarts says:

    I’m all about doing more, for the reasons you list plus the benefits of cross-training. Currently, I swim with a master’s club, do a belly dance class, a ballet class, and a horseback riding lesson every week. In decent weather I walk to work (3 km each way) or ride my bike. That’s social because a work colleague lives near me. I sometimes wish I could spend more time getting good at just one thing, but the reality is that I’m past 50 so more just means higher risk of pain, if not outright injury.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. caitlinburke says:

    I think the less vs more issue is wildly different when it comes to things vs experiences. I am fully in favor of limiting our *things* to what gives us joy — and that could include a pretty big variety of sports gear. Participating in sports (particularly, to my mind, outdoor sports) is firmly in the category of experiences, which I believe we should emphasize (unless they cause distress).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lindajett says:

    I agree with caitlinburke! Things are things, experiences are experiences. As long as wanting to try new ones does not become an obsession, I think it is stimulating to expand our choices and put ourselves to the test. With this open mind attitude I think it gets easier to let go of whatever we do not like. Regarding the practical aspect of getting the right gear it is true that it can be quite expensive, but in most cases you can rent it and then decide.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kim Solga says:

    Great post, Catherine! I’ve recently embraced more… Because I started rowing and decided I’d commit to a training schedule with racing in mind. Now, as Spring approaches, I need to balance that with cycle training for… Racing. So we will see! But I love that each sport affords me two different kinds of physical workouts, two different experiences of the out of doors, and two different emotional journeys. And one is team work dependent, which is a wonderful challenge. So I’m going to go with, in this case, more is complementary.

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  9. longviewhill says:

    I try to balance my time and energy. I am just now starting to pare back a little from one favorite sport so I can spend more time on another. But, I also realize I can swing that pendulum back anytime I want. I absolutely love trying new things, and I love all the new people I am meeting. I am a lot with Kim – I like things that are different, that offer different challenges and environments.

    Like

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