Friday, September 10, 2004

The benefits of exercise

I used to be very dismissive of people taking exercise for the sake of it. partly, perhaps, because of what sportspeople were usually like. Dame Edna Everage was asked to explain the sporting success of Australians: she said it was down to "the total lack of mental distraction". And as someone else said, while watching a rowing team, "Eight men sharing one thought - if that". My view used to be that exercise was mindless and pointless; perhaps I was encouraged in this view since my work kept me fit enough anyway. But more recently I have found that my work does not keep me fit, and also that the prospect of tedium seems less awful. After all, there are plenty of other things I do which are equally futile, like tidying up a room containing three children, or cutting the grass, or washing the car. And there is a sort of calming effect, since you are taken away from any other calls on your time, in a way that a "Do not disturb" sign, or a sulky frown, does not. So you could say that it is a sort of meditation (not, perhaps, a very productive one, since it comprises a mixture of pointless counting and pointless timings); certainly it is easier afterwards to take intellectual debate as a sort of game rather than a deadly struggle, seen from the Olympian heights of post-adrenalin euphoria.

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