I”m pretty sure by now that you can figure out where this blog post is going: Here he comes again talking about sedentariness vs being physically active. You’d be close in making that guess, but wrong.
This week in national political news, Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican from Arizona, announced from the Senate floor why he’s not going to run in 2018. His speech, what may be the most statesmanlike speech in modern history, was very critical of the tone and tenor of politics under Trump, and due to Trump. This is bold – to come out so critical of one’s own party’s president is ballsy.
Then I read this: “Never Walk by a Mistake”, on a blog, The Art of Manliness.
Wisdom comes in many forms, including blogs. As we heard Flake’s excoriation of Trump and Trumpism, and we heard his refusal to run for office again – following Sen. Corker of Tennessee for some of the same reasons – we also heard principled men “walk by a mistake”. How many of us do likewise in aspects of our lives even as we find really good reasons to do so?
So here’s the pitch: nearly everyone knows they should be doing some exercise. Nearly everyone knows that there’s some benefit to doing exercise beyond looking better, getting leaner or even feeling better. Most of us delude ourselves by thinking exercise will help us live longer when, in fact, all the data shows a small ROI (return on investment) of time and energy.
But it’s useful to know that all the data on exercise does show that it improves a variety of qualities of life that few of us could rationalize away.
Yes, it helps regulate weight, especially if accompanied by a reduced calorie diet of healthy foods. It may not make you lean but it may make or keep you leaner. It may not make you pain free but it may reduce your pains and make you more functional even if you still have them. It will reduce your risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, your levels of anxiety, depression and even sadness (a temporary state of ‘depression’ that’s subclinical, and it will make it more possible for you to avoid a lifetime of pharmaceutical management of lifestyle diseases that cost time, money and aggravating visits to doctors and hospitals.
Those are just some of the more generic benefits of a regular exercise program!
How does this relate to Flake/Corker and the blog on ‘mistakes’? Simple: every moment of our lives is a decision moment, a choice we are fortunate to be able to make both by the society and culture in which we live as well as the economic and political structures under which we thrive or suffer. Every aspect of one’s life, from one’s personal health to one’s role in a family, workplace or body politic. To ‘walk by a mistake’ is an abrogation of responsibility to any and all aspects of one’s own life.
And to NOT WALK by a walkable place is a mistake, too. That is, way too often, even if we’re not in our exercise mode or attire, we choose to take the easy way out by moving toward the closest parking space, the elevator/escalator or choosing to take a physical shortcut from some activity we know we have to do at some point.
We, as humans, lean toward efficiencies so much so we become inefficient physically and maybe spiritually.
The blog makes the point that, as a consumer, we often accept shoddy work rather than complain to the worker or management for any number of reasons. By doing so, we impose shoddiness on subsequent customers, we reinforce sloppiness by employees who may wish to progress along the employment ladder, and we allow a business to fail by not letting management know there’s a problem. Others then lose their jobs, incomes and investments – just because you, and others, didn’t complain.
We are in some respects customers of wellness whether we go to a gym, engage a trainer, or simply do some exercise at home. When we allow ourselves to skimp on our program or our diet, we may be contributing to the reduced output of a business called ‘our selves’ that may eventually lead to full blown failure.
We are also leaders of others, be they our kids, our peers, our employees, or whatever. As such, we are to be exemplars of behaviors that we would wish them to have, too. (See Flake and Corker.) When we fail to live up to our own standards of wellness, we fail to transmit its importance to others such that the next generation may think less of it, until as a whole no one thinks much of it and it withers off the public view. We essentially contribute to the lack of wellness of our society at large.
Finally, as the article also concludes, we are undervaluing and undermining our own concepts of who we are, thereby setting a precedent for other ventures in our own lives. By allowing us to excuse ourselves from the most important venture, our own health, we are basically relinquishing control of our destiny. When we get accustomed to doing that too regularly, it makes it easier to do it again…and again…and again.
From our health to that of the family’s or business’s or nation’s, we continue to make excuses and find ourselves in a moment similar to that which Sen. Flake found himself these past few days. How much longer are we, individually and societally, willing to allow the infiltration of lifestyle patterns, values, ideas, mores, etc that are dangerous to our own health to rule?