Fitting in Fitness

by Site Author

January First: The hangover was brutal, absolutely brutal. But he still followed through. He put on his new, $120 workout shirt, the one knitted from the pubes of Peruvian Marathon Mice. Then he put on his new $75 workout shorts, the product of three-hundred scientist-months spent studying chaffage. He drove to the gym, a thirty-minute commute each way, ellipticized on the elliptical until the shirt was soaked in sweat, and then he smeared that sweat on every weight machine in the building.

January Second: Was he supposed to be this sore? No workout.

January Third: Rain. No workout.

January Fourth through Twentieth: Sick daughter, too little sleep, big presentation at work, back-to-school night, rain, sleet, snow, Seinfeld TV marathon, knee pain. No work outs.

With that, the workout log ends, as do the workouts.

There is a better way. Michelle Segar recently wrote a book in which she argues that the best exercise is the one you do.

No Sweat Book

And so Segar recommends adopting flexible exercise schedules featuring short, accessible workouts. She encourages people to count gardening as exercise, to get a fitbit and count walking as exercise, to start taking the stairs.

Matt Might calls this “least-resistance fitness.” The computer scientist found himself terribly out of shape, and so he designed a workout routine that shed working out’s transaction costs. He bought equipment for his home gym, and adopted a routine in which he lifted weights with little warmup, with no special clothes, and with, really, little thought. He split a thirty-minute lifting routine into ten-minute bouts spread through the day.

All of this suggests a simple recipe.

  1. Find exercise you actually enjoy. It’s hard to do something that you hate.
  2. Strip away all of the costs. Get rid of the outfit, the commute, the gym membership, the warm-up, the lifting partner.
  3. Stick to it. And if you can’t, then repeat steps 1 and 2.

A famous quote, often attributed to either Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra goes: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” Today, many people are realizing that the saying applies more to exercise than to alcohol. Indeed, dozens of studies have confirmed what everyone who works out knows: a good workout boosts your mood. And so there are, in the end, enormous benefits to exercise. But those benefits are only enjoyed by those who actually exercise.