Some mornings I get up and would rather stay in bed. I’m sure this is unique to me. I know I need to exercise, but reading is more fun. And I have bills to pay. And my back hurts. Also, I need to tidy up my office, the cat needs feeding, I should really take it easy on that injured foot, I think I’m getting a headache, and I just don’t feel like it.
We all have excuses for not doing exercise. The more people I meet, the more excuses I hear. Yet, I’ve notice something: The people who do exercise regularly have just as many reasons not to exercise as the people who don’t exercise regularly. In fact, people who exercise regularly seem always to be discussing how their shoulder aches or that knee surgery slowed them down. They have shin splints and bad backs and various maladies that could be used as an excuse to avoid exercise.
Those people also have something else: A sense of why they should exercise. Exercise is one of the most basic, fundamental elements of success. No matter how you define success, you will need a working physical body to achieve it. You can certainly get rich and be fat. But success doesn’t mean getting rich. Success means attaining your goals. That means you need some balance in your life (you have to focus enough to know what your goals are and to move toward them).
And to enjoy your success, you need a body that works. One of my favorite modern philosophers is Dr. Dean Edell (see Healthcentral.com). I call him a philosopher because he has a consistent, moderate, rational approach to health. He likes to put in perspective the news we hear about living longer. If we can extend the life expectancy of Americans by some period of time, he says, we need to consider the quality of that life extension. Are we living another three months in a hospital, hooked up to equipment that keeps us alive? If so, is there value in extending life expectancy?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could extend your life and know that you’ll be upright, active, and reasonably healthy for that extended period of time?
At the turn of the millennium, I told my daughter Victoria (then age 8) that she had a real chance of seeing and remembering three centuries–the 1900’s, the 2000’s, and the 2100’s. All she had to do was live to be 108. If you think about the advancements in medicine, being 108 years old in the year 2100 seems quite reasonable.
Then she asked me if people might live to be 140 by that time. I told her I thought they could. At least some people will live to be 140 years old. So she told me that I could also see the year 2100 if I worked at it and took care of myself. So, now I have to exercise for two reasons: She’s going to be mad at me if I don’t live to 140, and I want to be ambulatory and able to enjoy it!
You may not have a goal of living to be 140, but you should have the goal of being healthy while you’re here on earth. You’re excuses are worthless. There are people with all kinds of maladies who exercise regularly. If you’re reasonably able, you need to exercise more than them.
Some people use the excuse that exercise is expensive, but you don’t have to spend any money at all. There’s an old fella in my neighborhood who jogs in basic khaki shorts and a button-up shirt. He doesn’t even spend the money for a pair of exercise shorts! But he jogs many miles every day. He looks like he’s in his sixties, but he’s probably in his eighties. He won’t even spend $15 on a t-shirt, but he exercises regularly.
Exercise is pretty straight-forward: Move your body more and you’ll live longer.
I’m no Charles Atlas. In fact, if you met me on the street you’d probably never guess that I exercise at all. But I ride the stationary bike and I do yoga. I have lots of excuses why I can’t run or play racquetball anymore. I can do something and I try.
If you have to boil success down to a few basic elements, exercise has to be on the short list. If you reach your goals and find yourself bedridden (or dead), you haven’t really achieved anything at all. You have to take care of your frail human shell because you’ll need it to be in good shape no matter what you achieve.