Hating Exercise

“Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.”
– Robert M. Hutchins

The article below discusses depression, modern civilization as a root cause, and how we can look to our ancestors and modern day hunter gatherers for the cure.  In fact, I’d really like you to read it first to help set the context for what I want to talk about.


Okay so as you could tell.  Exercise is one of the best medicines. (Along with getting greater quantities of Omega-3’s, sunlight, healthy sleep, anti-ruminative activity and social connection. But as you also will have read exercise is not natural. We don’t like it!  Exercise for its own sake just does not seem be enough. (I liked his Hamster wheel example) All the intense and moderate activity Hunter Gatherers get is a by-product of living. Doing their “chores” so to speak, as they hunt and gather their food and water and other materials required for living. We can also add in that these cultures do dance a lot too (something that wasn’t discussed in the article or video.)

What can we do about it. How can we incorporate the physical activity into our lives in a way that gets us off the couch and moving while tricking our brains, since it can smell a treadmill a mile away?

I don’t have the answers but I do have some ideas. Ultimatley it will fall on us as individuals to figure out how we can trick our bodies into moving and therefore start gaining more of the benefits that exercise provides. Which are numerous.

First idea that comes to mind is what one of my former grade school teachers calls “Yard Play.” When he is out working in his yard, He’d create games for himself. How fast could he do something, how many times could he lift something.  Making it something of a “Strongman” competition with himself doing the various activities that needed to be done in his yard.

Another idea that comes to mind right away is joining  a sports team, martial art, a competitive individual sport or take dance lessons. With this the skies the limit.  But as I’ve mention in a previous post, for most of us, simply wanting to change our body image (as in get a six pack) tends to fail us as being a strong enough motivator. Where if you get into one of the above activities. Firstly, just doing the activity will lead to huge benefits, but depending on how competitive you are, you may find yourself willing to hit the gym to do a little extra strength training to build your body up to withstand and then thrive in that competitive environment.

The last one I have for this post is to build a reward system for yourself for after you exercise. And this could be anything, from fast food to the movies to anything in between.

Here is what I have done in the past and what I am doing now.  Before when I was either a highschool, then college athlete before  really getting into rugby, that took care of most of my conditioning needs. I happen to be a little competitive and had dreams of professional rugby, so I did a lot of extra training. (Initially too much as I’ve highlighted in previous posts.) I liked beer, but that can be very counter-productive if you aspire for the professional ranks, so that was generally limited to after games and some practices. In other words, I only drank when I felt I earned it.  If I had a social event in the off season and was going out with friends during the week? Well I’d hit the gym beforehand or workout with my kids. (Being a gym teacher lent itself quite nicely to being a “Hunter/Gatherer”)

Okay that worked for me back then, but right now I live in Guinea, don’t play rugby, and am not gym teaching.  Here’s what I’m doing.  Friday is my hard Dr. McGuff/Arthur Jones training day. My reward… We get Pizza afterwards! Then we grocery shop. Pizza is my reward and we only eat it after hard training. We now virtually never shop hungry which keeps us from buying too much crap. Hence the one can of Pringles and not five.  So that took care of one day, what about the rest of the week. Well I must do chores here.  We don’t have a washing machine. I do all the laundry by hand. We don’t have a vacuum cleaner. I must sweep and wash the floors by hand. It’s Africa, the city is dirty (Thanks Harmattan!) I have clean often. And lastly, and possibly because of  lifelong training habits as an athlete, I will do an additional 1 or 2 HIT calisthenics routines. But now I add it is part of my job description. I train and post a photo or two on to the app platform I’m now working for. (pumpup.com)

What I won’t tell you is that I also pretend to be a Samurai/Jedi Master and pretend to do Sword (Saber) fighting techniques in the spare room when my fiancé is not home.

So, in conclusion, if you hate exercise, you’re not alone. Most of us do. The trick then is to trick your brain and body into working at something you enjoy, or don’t enjoy, but know there is a wonderful reward at the end of all that physical exertion.