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To Get More Active, Inconvenience Yourself

I went summer camping with 5 friends recently. We went biking, swimming, kayaking, and hiking—regular outdoor physical activities one might do while in The Nature.

During this time, I noticed how often we were up and moving around to do simple tasks and chores throughout the day, even when we weren’t out out doing the recreational exercise activities.

When we wanted to go to sleep, we had to put up a tent. When we wanted to make a fire but ran out of wood, we had to scavenge or head to the conservation office to buy more. When we wanted to brush our teeth, it was a walk or a bike down the path to the loo. Whenever I misplaced bug spray or sunscreen, I was up rummaging around to find what I needed.

A campfire at night with wood on the ground
There’s exercise to be had in scavenging for firewood!

Not everything was within easy reach when you are camping: there’s often a little added effort to find, get, or make whatever you need. Without all the conveniences of home, we were moving, walking, bending, and stretching in short bouts all day long.

Like most people, I often establish habits and use tools that maximize convenience and comfort when I am at home. How much more physical activity might add up in my days if I intentionally made things slightly less easy for myself? What if I chose to knead bread without the mixer, walk to my mailbox rather than stop after my commute home, use one tissue box at a time rather than plant them in many rooms of the house?

Wall-E holds a plant next to a spaceship
Wall-E Theatrical release poster (fair use)

The animated Disney movie Wall-E tells a story of how, in the future, people have every luxury thanks in part to the machines they invent; consequently, they become totally inert and lazy. The moral of this cautionary tale is that excessive convenience and comfort will diminish our ability to think and act and move for ourselves.

Of course, my tent-trailer and Coleman stove camping experience was still relatively easy and convenient, but I realized that adding some purposeful inconveniences in my daily life could lead to a little more physical activity that I might not even notice.

What are some small inconveniences you maintain for a little more physical activity each day?

4 thoughts on “To Get More Active, Inconvenience Yourself

  1. Love this and have had similar thoughts. Cate and I talked about the Movator here, https://fitisafeministissue.com/2017/02/28/make-your-day-harder-guest-post/.
    But I worry about accessibility and who gets left out if we make things harder, see https://fitisafeministissue.com/2017/11/20/is-universal-design-always-a-good-thing-sam-wonders-about-accessibility-and-fitness-part-3/. But if we make things universally easier how do we resist everyone doing the easy thing?

    1. Thanks for those posts! Great point about the difference between what is less convenient for each of us vs. how systemic inconvenience can disproportionately affect folks with disabilities. What is easy for one may be (unnecessarily) difficult for another.

  2. I’m not a camper, but I notice this a lot when I travel, regardless of arrangements – nothing is ever where I need it to be, so I’m always up and looking for things. Just when I get them positioned around my lodgings in a way that makes sense it is time to pack up and go home. I do want to also mention that while you fairly articulate some themes from Wall-E here, the movie is incredibly fat-phobic and harmful to lots of folks in larger bodies. Maintenance Phase did a great episode about this movie specifically, but I think it may have been a subscriber-only episode.

    1. Hi Amy, yes you are entirely right about the fat phobia in the movie Wall-E. So important to decouple themes of laziness resulting due to tech dependency from harmful stereotypes about bodies. The characters using mobility aids also risks negative stereotypes of people with disabilities. Thank you so much for mentioning this important point.

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