Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


T'ain't So, T'is Too
Jackie Spinks

                      Exercise: Our New Religion

As for our new religion-- exercise, I’m an apostate   I don’t believe in exercise for the elderly.  But don’t string me up yet. Hear me out.  For a get-along, go-along person like myself creating controversy like this one is a bad idea—and THIS ONE is a real contender, nevertheless I’m going to have a go at it. 

First the time you spend exercising is not only a waste of time but your time might be put to better use-- like watching  TV.  Something educational, of course.   So do I have some screw loose thinking that way about our new orthodoxy that’s been so widely accepted?   Well maybe.  Let’s see.

Like all creeds this one has developed extremists—in that it’s become an addiction for some.  But how could it not be, as we’ve all heard from doctors, teachers, parents, books, magazines, TV, radio, Internet, you name it, exercise will make us not only (1) fulfill our evolutionary program, in other words following the example of our animal relatives, but it will help us (2) live longer (3) become slim and gorgeous (4) make us more healthy (5) make us smarter and (6) eliminate stress and depression.  Wow!  What an order.   What a return on your investment, can’t beat that one.

As a nation, we’re fat.  More than fat—we’re obese.  But what’s doing it isn’t lack of exercise.  It’s changes in society such as all these pictures of delicious food and cooking on the TV. 
It’s also Fast Food restaurants selling such things as Super Big Macs at 2,500 calories.  That’s more calories than the average person should eat in a day. 

And portions of everything has increased in size.  For example a muffin today is four times the size of a muffin when I was a kid.  I love those huge, moist muffins and while I can’t keep from eating one, if they were smaller Depression era size, I’d never eat four little muffins at one sitting.  I’d consider that gluttony and be thoroughly stuffed, although I have no problem eating one large one.  Can’t waste it.

My Grandpa, who, was kicked out of Russia and almost starved at one time, would be turning over in his grave if I wasted ¾ of the muffin.  Furthermore, eating food is a habit, (we could drink our sustenance—we don’t have to eat) but there is nothing harder than breaking a habit.  Ask any alcoholic or gambler.  We’re made up of habits. Part of it is that we’re secretly proud of our habits (most of them are good one, like earning a living, loving our kids and brushing our teeth) and so there’s a part of our minds that is uncooperative, child-like, and can’t tell the difference between good and bad habits, hence our brains keeps both good and bad habits.  The only solution I can think of to rid ourselves of bad habits is to find something better to take its place.  Maybe a movie role.  Just kidding.  I don’t know what’s more enjoyable for you than eating, but you’ve got to substitute that—whatever it is, for eating. 

Also it helps in this weight losing reconnaissance if we have someone close by who’s sharing this relinquishment of hedonistic fun, especially as we’re doing it for some future payoff like a 26” waist.
Another thing fattening us up is our parents, who let kids amuse themselves with video games and watching TV rather than playing catch, jumping rope, racing, riding bikes, etc.  Furthermore, the parents in my neighborhood, after all the publicity on TV about child molesters won’t let their kids play outside.  So they let them get stuck with this even worse conundrum than being molested-- a fat body for the rest of their lives.

Another reason for our obesity is machinery and robots do the heavy labor we once did. 
And it helped the waist line that groceries during the Depression could take half a man’s paycheck for a family of four. 

Today, the government could do what I’ve heard France has done—outlaw vending machines in schools and put a big tax on high calorie food.  The French don’t exercise much and outlive us, so they might have an answer. And we all know that exercise alone won’t make you thin. 

Now, I’ll list some of the arguments for exercise, and some counter arguments against it. 

  1. For exercise: We’re animals and animals need exercise.

If we check out our relatives in the animal kingdom, the longest lifers-- they’ve been calculated to live 200 years, are turtles and elephants.  Turtles and elephants are not known for their active life or jogging ability.

  1. If we exercise, we’ll live longer.

Counter argument. I’ve never observed an obituary of any well-exercise famous athlete living into his nineties.  Can you name even one who was famous during the 1920’s who’s still around.  Plus during the 1930’s and 1940’s when everyone was slim and well-muscled, the average life span was 65.  Today our over-weight selves have an average life span of 78, and that increase is not to be sneezed at.  

(3). We’ll be more attractive if we exercise.
Yeah, from the neck down, but the stress and strain of all that exercise ages our faces.

  1. Exercise will make us healthier.

As for healthier, do you know any elderly exerciser who isn’t a pill popper for their arthritis, sciatica, bum knees, muscle strains, bad backs, swollen joints and so on.

  1. It will make us smarter, in that it will bring more oxygen to the brain.

Give that one a little more thought.  Do your aerobic and calisthenics and see if at the end of the day you understand how to convert a reciprocating rectilinear motion into a uniform circular motion better than the nerd sitting in the library studying all day? I mean if it were exercise that made us smarter, why not tell the geeks in school to give up those books, and become jocks.

(6) Exercise relieves stress and depression.

Here exercise may help. Who could be anxious about the car’s bad transmission, while pumping iron, moreover,  at the end of an exercise session we’re panting, gasping for breath, glad it’s over,  and so physically stressed, we can’t be emotionally stressed about anything-- but that emotional relief lasts until we’re relaxed and than those old problems, depression and stress, sneak back in.

Anyhow, the point I’m trying to make is that, while exercise may be a good thing, let’s not get carried away and think it will make us live longer as I’m sorry to say, statistics show, after 60, exercise does nothing for longevity. 

But trends come and go and we may have another Depression, where we’ll all have to work hard, raise chickens, make a garden in our back yards, go out into the woods picking wild berries and voila, we’ll all be thin again, like we were during the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

On the other hand it’s satisfying for me to know (as I’m a non-exerciser) that exercisers and non-exercisers will end up at the finish line at about the same time.  So if you prefer the couch potato route you won’t check out before your well-exercised brother, although as a coucher you may not look as slim and fit as he does. 

So all of you, who believe in this new religion, before you run me out on the rails for blasphemy let me concede exercise does bring strength and this strength in turn brings physical endurance.
And so all ye slim people, (okay so I’m jealous) I christen all ye a royal pain.  And hopefully your pain is not in your back, knee, or hip.  Sorry to be a killjoy or am I.   Maybe instead, I’ve alleviated some of the majority’s guilt over their apostasy.       




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