From the “phrases that make my eye twitch” file:
“I only run when being chased by a _______” (bear, cop, axe murderer, chupacabra, etc.)
I know this statement is typically said in jest, but it irritates me none the less, for in my mind it implies that:
a) the person speaking hates running, which makes me very sad, and
b) those of us who run for the hell of it must be crazy, for only a life threatening situation such as impending chupacabra attack should evoke such ridiculous extreme measures.
I know, what a terrible, pointless thing to rant about. But hear me out.
I laid in bed last night from about 10:30 pm until sometime around 2:00 am, wide awake, contemplating how chaotic and uncomfortable my life feels without regular exercise. (Well, regular in Heather’s world. I still get in 2-3 good workouts a week. But that’s down from 2 workouts a day x 6 days a week, which is down from last summer’s teaching spin class all day every day on top of my own workouts nonsense) The last few months have been hard. I’m anxious, emotional, exhausted. I’m questioning everything I do and feeling enthusiasm for little. I have to take caffeine to wake me up in the morning, and something to help me fall asleep at night (though clearly, it doesn’t always work.) My eating habits have gone to hell and I feel like a giant slug.
And as I laid there wide awake, thinking about everything that I’ve done wrong in my life (why does that always happen in the wee hours of the morning) I couldn’t help but laugh at how all of this has come about by a lack of physical activity and healthy eating. My world is falling apart because I haven’t been able to prance around the trails like a merry little mountain goat (first world problems, or fighting natural instinct?). But on a serious note, it made me think of the rest of our society, most of which is overweight and inactive, and made me think: who would want to live this way? And more so, how is it that so many people don’t realize how a few lifestyle changes could significantly change their lives for the better?
With a background in exercise and sport science, I won’t deny that my thought process is somewhat biased in being convinced without a reasonable doubt that we, as humans, were absolutely designed to constantly be on the move.
Yet we don’t.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control reports that 80% of American adults do not get the recommended weekly physical activity (which, last time I checked, was 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week plus 2-3 days of resistance training on each major muscle group. Incase you are keeping track, you can get ALL of that done in 5 sessions of 30-ish minutes.). And I won’t get up on my soapbox (more than I already have) about how one in ten deaths worldwide are caused by lack of physical activity . But I WILL tell you this:
Sitting around is the bane of my existence, and not moving enough makes me feel like crap.
And feeling like crap is a vicious, vicious cycle. It often leads to taking alternative measures to try and counteract the “crap” feeling, only to create other symptoms that are less than desirable as well. Not sleeping. Poor digestion. Anxiety. Depression. Lethargy. Caffeine to wake up. Alcohol to relax. Comfort food to quell the anxiety. Any of this sound familiar?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there are other causes and circumstances for some of these situations (depression, etc). But do you ever wonder how much of it could be avoided by the general population with adequate exercise?
I do. All of the time. Hazards of the job I suppose. And I’m not the only one, just do a quick google search on “exercise prevents anxiety” and you will see that I’m not making any of this up.
To be honest with you, I have no real point to this blog post. I actually starting writing it around midnight, when I couldn’t sleep. Seemed like a great topic at the time. But I don’t want another soap-box, Heather’s on her fitness high horse again type of post. There are plenty of those floating around the internet, plenty of 400 word articles telling you that you should get off of your butt and exercise, and even more scientific research journal articles detailing exactly why. Regardless, 90% of you reading this have probably already come to this conclusion on your own.
I guess I just wanted a rambling, sleep deprived and caffeine driven post to say: I’m really thankful to have a love for physical activity in my life, and even more thankful for the constant reminders and realizations as to why it is so important to me. That it is not only necessary for my physical health, but it is so imperative for my mental well being as well.
And I only wish that the other 80% of the country could have the same realization: that exercise is far more useful than simply outrunning the cops…or chupacabras.