It’s OK to Despise Exercise
You hate it. I hate it. So here are the keys to getting fit anyway.
If you can’t stand jogging, loathe spinning your wheels on a pseudo bike that goes nowhere, and don’t want to do another burpee as long as you live, you’re like me and you’re pretty normal. These things are nothing but work, work, work.
The whole idea behind exercise — a word invented to describe the ridiculous activities we take up to counter the paucity of modern human activity — is totally insane from an evolutionary perspective. We were not made to exercise. We evolved to do life’s natural work, like hunting, gathering and running from danger (then later tilling, planting and running from danger). Through nearly all of human history, mere existence was grueling, often terrifying, but the challenge of survival kept us physically fit and mentally sharp.
“Until recently, nobody exercised because people had to be physically active in order to survive,” Daniel Lieberman, PhD, a Harvard University evolutionary biologist and paleoanthropologist, told me earlier this year. “Exercise is physical activity for the sake of health and fitness.”
To be clear, you absolutely need physical activity, not just for a healthy body and long life but also to keep your head straight, oodles of studies have shown. The activity that will work best for you is one that’ll get your heart racing and your juices flowing. Something that is inherently motivating. Something… fun.
Find your passion
The first trick, then, is to find your passion. I know something about this, having found and lost mine many times over.
In youth, football, basketball and skiing were among my passions. I excelled at being a mediocre athlete, so by high school, team sports were something I watched from the stands, and by my early 20s I was a bit of a lump.
Then one day, while literally sprawled on the couch eating potato chips and drinking beer, I was watching one of the early Ironman races on TV with my best friend, Dale. We decided hey, maybe we could do one of those. Dale was already a runner. I’d always thought jogging was stupid. At first it was. Stupid hard. My initial goal was just to trudge fast enough to stick with him…