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Activity is not always physical.

May 3, 2012

Physical activity is an important type of activity, no doubt. That said, it’s only one type of activity.

People avoid physical activity for all sorts of reasons, including lack of opportunities, feeling awkward in one’s own body, and fear of ridicule. However, in our zeal to help those people, we must keep in mind that we cannot all be athletes and we do not all need to enjoy the same level of activity to enjoy well-being.

Some people will never exercise beyond what is required for them to live (e.g., cleaning the house, walking to the store, or doing yard work). Others enjoy being active, but will choose a leisurely bike ride over a game of basketball (like me). And some people, such as myself, are more mentally, than physically, active.

I sometimes feel that in our culture we look down on those who are not athletic, and that ties into our deeper dislike of those who are not “adventurous.” If you are not constantly, literally moving, talking, or doing something extroverted, you are worth less.

I can’t go one day without people telling me how I should be doing something. Whether it’s travel or learning a language, I am told that I should immerse myself in the culture and sleep in hostels with nothing but the clothes on my back. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things, of course, but as an introvert with a speech and language disability, who learned to write before she learned to speak, that’s not me.

If it’s swimming, I’m told that I should not ease my way in, but that I should jump in feet first. Likewise, if it’s activity, I am told that what I’m doing is okay, but that I could be doing sports instead of stocking crates in my basement.

Essentially, if I was doing anything, someone had a way in which I could do it better.

When it comes to activity, I’m here to tell you that no, you can’t do any better. What’s better to others is not necessarily better for you. Where you are right now is your “better,” maybe even your “best” because some people just aren’t athletes. They can’t be, don’t want to be, and don’t need to be.

One of the most damaging experiences I have had in learning to be comfortable in my unathletic skin is being told that I was just lazy. I love it when non-athletes are accused of being lazy when they do long hours of physical labor as part of their jobs. Then again, if you don’t make millions of dollars or earn trophies doing so, nobody cares. Well, I have news for you. I do work for long hours every day. It’s just not physical.

I am writing a story. My story is a fictional series of books about the rosary. Since I was 13 years old, I have been writing, researching, and just meditating on what the characters are like, where they live, what they do every day, and essentially constructing an entire world.

I draw pictures of them to help me orient myself in their world. I have spent countless hours at churches and cathedrals, taking notes; listening to, and studying, church music; learning the Lithuanian and Polish languages and cultures; learning Latin; analyzing canon law and Church history; studying sacramental theology; reading the works of the saints; reading classic works of Catholic literature; and sharing my discoveries with others.

I use events in my life for creative stories. I research Church politics, as well as secular politics to add to my plotlines. I do so much on a regular basis to give this story life.

If you don’t think that’s work, then I dare you to do it.

No gym membership required. All you need is your mind.

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2012 9:47 am

    A while back I interviewed Michael Karolchyk, the Anti-Gym douchebag, who challenged me to find a fat person who could run a 5K in under X minutes. This, he said, would be proof that you could be fat and fit.

    At the time, I accepted his claim at face value. But over time I began to realize that you don’t have to be able to run fast, or deadlift a truck, in order to be healthy. For your body to get the benefits of physical activity, you just have to do something: walking, riding a bike, swimming, whatever. There’s no “right” way to be physically active, and if motivated, anyone can find some activity to improve their physical health. Doing some kind of physical activity does have health benefits and being completely sedentary can harm your health.

    That being said, I don’t think anyone is under any obligation to be physically active, and there are millions of people, thin and fat, who are completely sedentary. And if they aren’t sedentary, then they’re smokers or drinkers or terrible drivers or any number of other problems that jeopardize their health. Physical activity and pursuing good health are not indications of value or morality. They are, if you are so inclined, things that can care for your body and may help you live a longer, healthier life, but they are not, in and of themselves, a reflection of who you are. Besides, mental health is just as important as physical health.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • Kala permalink
      May 3, 2012 9:57 am

      Speaking from actuarial things I’ve read in the past, there is very little difference at all in terms of life expectancy, for individuals who are moderately fit (moderate exercise several times a week) and individuals who athletically train. As in, the gym rat that runs marathons isn’t expected to see significant life expectancy gains from the person who jogs slowly twice a week and does a zumba class. Where you really start to see life expectancy drop, and I’m sure quality of life also, is in the more sedentary classes of people.

      • May 3, 2012 10:16 am

        Yup. The biggest jump in the health benefits of physical activity is between a completely sedentary lifestyle to moderate exercise. In fact, I interviewed Glenn Gaesser (haven’t posted it yet) and we talked about how in one study they divided physical activity into fifths, or quintiles, and those in the lowest quintile (the least active) had the worst health, while those in the next highest quintile (the second least active) had significant improvement. The differences between the second quintile and the rest of the more physically active quintiles were pretty much negligible. Once you become even moderately active, the health benefits are yours to keep. It seems that in terms of health, being sedentary is more of an issue than your level of athleticism.

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • Kala permalink
          May 3, 2012 10:21 am

          I think this is a really common sentiment: when someone devotes themselves to a certain lifestyle, it becomes more “right” in every way possible. And of course the things they don’t agree with or don’t like become the most wrong wrong wrong things you could ever do.

          When I was a vegan, some of the more annoying militant vegans that I knew were just utterly convinced that their veganism was not only the most ethical way to live, it was absolutely the most and only truly healthy way to eat for any human being, and of course it was the most and only truly sustainable and environmentally minded way to live. Of course the same can be said for many members of any food based subculture. Many hardcore exercise hobbyists and athletes are the same way, it can’t just be something good for them, it has to be the mostbestgreatest thing for everything. Their chosen lifestyle will somehow cure all your ails, and if it doesn’t, you’re just not doing it right. Blech.

        • May 3, 2012 3:05 pm

          That’s really valuable information, Shannon. I am involved in alternative transportation politics locally, and there is this attitude that people who bike 400 miles per month are not only morally superior, but people actually think these folks are wiser about alt. transportation than people who only ride to local errands or events, or who don’t ride, but use the bus. Suburban bus use entails a *lot* of walking. And frankly, as someone absolutely passionate about driving reduction, anyone riding a bike 400 miles a month is not very intelligent about alt. transportation or driving reduction for the masses, or even for themselves! Years ago, I figured out that mega-bicycling was not an intelligent way to reduce driving, and after much searching, figured out a way to gradually go from 10 gals/week down to 1 gal/week without using a bike, only doing modest walking, and rarely using a bus (for long-distance trips.) That strategy is much more time efficient and practical than spending a zillion hours on buses or bicycles, so it’s much more feasible for the average person. And to note that they are not even going to have that much of a health benefit over more modest riders, LOL.

          • May 3, 2012 10:28 pm

            fmnst,
            I’ll have to see if I can find the study that Gaesser referenced. Remind me or I’ll forget to look it up. 🙂

            But, yeah, there’s such a thing as the law of diminishing returns. Most bodies thrive on activity, but you can also overdo it and wear your body down sooner than it should. It’s about finding a balance that works for you and your life. We have an idea of what the minimum effective dose is (150 minutes moderate or 75 minutes vigorous per week, plus strength training), but I haven’t really read anything about maximum effective dosage. I know we have a few physical trainers out there who can speak to that.

            I think there are probably a few people who are genetically capable of enduring much higher rates of exercise (I wrote about that here), but I’d say those people are relatively rare.

            Peace,
            Shannon

    • May 3, 2012 11:33 am

      Just for the record, I completely agree that being completely sedentary can be bad for your health. That said, how many people are truly that sedentary? A tiny minority, I think.

      As for me personally, I am actually quite active and fit, but I could never run a marathon or do sports in any serious way. I used to stock crates in blistering heat and extreme cold (coolers) 20 hours a week as part of my job. But oddly enough, my mother and sister, who could NEVER do that level of work, saw me then as being lazy and unhealthy when I collapsed from exhaustion at the end of the day.

      Now, I take walks and I dance for a few hours a week. This does not include the housework or the errands that I run (literally) because I live close to downtown.

      • Kala permalink
        May 3, 2012 11:41 am

        I disagree Joanna. We’re not merely talking about people who are unfortunately bed bound or something, there’s whole levels of sedentary above that, that have still proven detrimental to health, before you get to moderately active people.

        That doesn’t mean that they’re bed-bound, but I’m talking about people who don’t have physical labor intensive jobs, do not regularly exercise, do not play any sports (casual or not casually), do not go on anything but very short walks, etc. The standards for recommended physical activity are not particularly rigorous for an able-bodied individual, but many, many people do not still reach those standards.

        • May 3, 2012 11:48 am

          That may be true, but is that level of physical activity the cause or the product of those health problems? Or some other circumstance that causes both the health problems and the lack of activity? Just a thought.

          • Kala permalink
            May 3, 2012 12:18 pm

            With all due respect, I think that it’s obviously both ways. If that weren’t the case, individuals who go from sedentary to moderately active, wouldn’t see significant and measurable health gains. I highly doubt all those health gains are merely from an increase in mental wellness and self esteem that can come with exercise.

          • May 3, 2012 5:10 pm

            Technically, the “official” (federal) definition of sedentary means (or includes people who are) ambulatory, but getting less than a certain amount of physical activity per week, in case there was any confusion about whether sedentary means bed-bound (which it doesn’t.)

        • May 3, 2012 12:53 pm

          Offense very much taken, Kala.

          I never once said that increasing physical activity did not have health benefits or that some people did not get enough. My original comment was directed at Atchka, who said that being completely sedentary was bad for your healthy and I agreed, but thne asked how many people were “truly sedentary.” The point of my next comment was to ask to *what extent* lower fitness levels either caused or were caused by other issues like health problems or the negative stress of poverty. I certainly never mentioned “self-esteem” or “mental wellness.” You just completely made those up and put them in my mouth.

          If anyone wants to get back to the essential point of my post, which is that physicality is not all that matters, or that you don’t need to be an athlete to be fit, then please do so. Otherwise, don’t bother.

          • May 3, 2012 5:41 pm

            Okay, when Shannon used the term “completely sedentary,” I took it to literally mean completely sedentary or close to it. I didn’t realize he was referring to “anything between no and moderate physical activity.” I accept that that’s totally my fault and I’m sorry for causing a fuss over it.

            Again, I never denied that physical activity is beneficial for health in and of itself and I certainly didn’t breathe a word about self-esteem or well-being or anything like that causing better health. I have no idea where people are getting that from. I hypothesized that for some people, a betterment in circumstances can lead people to exercise more and, at the same time, increase health. Is the physical activity at least partially responsible for that? Sure it is, but I don’t think it’s the only thing responsible.

            If I’m wrong about that hypothesis, I’m wrong. I really don’t care. It was just a suggestion and I had no intention of starting a debate over this. That wasn’t my main point in writing this. Sorry everyone.

            • May 3, 2012 10:22 pm

              Joanna, I was a bit confused at first by your post in that I thought you were saying that physical activity and mental activity were equally beneficial to health in terms of metabolic health. While I agree that mental health is just as important physical health (meaning those few aspects within your control), I wouldn’t say that the effects of good mental or physical health are equal in terms of what they affect. They’re complements for a whole person and both need to be taken care of, and in that sense I totally agree with your post. I think everyone is pushed to their limits in this life and they do what they have to do to get by, and a lot of times that means sacrificing physical activity for the mental activity that feeds our souls.

              I think the effects of mental and physical health on each other is too fluid and individual to propose any sort of theory, honestly. Some people exercise religiously because of unresolved mental health issues and some people are sedentary but are in excellent mental health.

              I should have clarified the “completely sedentary” comment. I always use absolutes too much. I just mean someone going from a sedentary job to the couch to bed day in and day out. There is a minimum amount necessary for sedentary, but I’m not sure what it is. I would imagine it’s on a continuum of effect, hence the quintiles.

              It used to be that physical activity wasn’t an option for men and women. Men work physically demanding jobs and women busted their asses at home. Now everybody’s working differently with many in mostly sedentary jobs and we have to make time to do what used to be built in. And it’s now become this obligation that instead of going to work all day and enjoying TV like every generation since the advent of the television has done, we’re expected to work all day and work out all night.

              It’s a major shift in our culture, and I don’t care if it affects obesity rates, but I’m curious what affect it’s had on the various metabolic disorders in our society.

              I don’t think you need to feel sorry for your post. You sparked a passionate and interesting conversation. You should be proud. 🙂

              Peace,
              Shannon

          • Kala permalink
            May 3, 2012 7:40 pm

            I’m not sure why you’re taking my comments so critically. You seem to think I was debating you and setting up some kind of straw man. I mentioned ““self-esteem” or “mental wellness.”” because they are commonly touted outcomes for physical activity. Most of the content of my comments here were not set out to argue with your points, but it’s in this defensive frame of mind that you’ve seemed to stage what I’ve wrote.

            I don’t agree with everything I read here, but I am decidedly not a troll. I’m not out to ruin the discussion or denigrate you. My original comment was put out there in response to the idea that individuals are pushed to be more athletic or more risk-taking, and I commenting that often the people who are out there pushing have an over-inflated (and sometimes completely fabricated) sense of how beneficial the lifestyle they’re trying to force on you has.

            I didn’t get the sense that your original blog post said that physical activity was not important, and I never argued that. I did argue with the additional suggestion-type sentiments that you brought up afterward, because I didn’t agree with them.

            • May 3, 2012 11:09 pm

              Kala isn’t a troll. And I don’t really think Peter was a troll either. He posted a website and what seemed a legitimate email. Pompous and condescending? Sure, but a troll, not so much. Same with Dr. Peter. Being ignorant isn’t the same as being a troll.

              I think there’s a lot of strong personalities here and I hope that we can continue to respectfully disagree because I think it’s a net gain for the community.

              Peace,
              Shannon

      • May 3, 2012 11:47 am

        I disagree. I would bet that sedentary lifestyles are pretty common, especially among office workers, like myself, who work an 8 hour day, have to commute, then go home and just want to relax and watch TV or play video games. I don’t think it’s that the majority are slothful or lazy, I think modern life has essentially extracted the natural physical activity that our society once had no choice over. I think people who work all day are completely justified in coming home and wanting to do what they enjoy, whether it’s reading the newspaper or watching TV, but 50 years ago most employees spent their day doing physically demanding work. Now that’s a minority of workers in this country.

        I think it’s an incredibly complicated subject and one that isn’t as simple as telling people to go do stuff. Sometimes we have to appreciate just how difficult it can be to “do” anything in this go-go 24-7 world of ours.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  2. JeninCanada permalink
    May 3, 2012 11:05 am

    The focus on our physical bodies, as opposed to our hearts and minds, as what’s worthy of attention, can be incredibly frustrating. Because that’s what people see, and we’re visual creatures us humans, what we look like and what we can *do* is valued above our emotional or mental health. People with mental or emotional health problems are often told ‘well you don’t LOOK sick’, which is an erasure of their very real needs and limits. Thanks for this great post, Joanna, and your book sounds deeply interesting!

    • May 3, 2012 11:44 am

      Thanks. I like hearing this from a non-RC. I try to write about Catholics without writing just *for* Catholics. While my focus is on Catholic theology, Catholicism was influenced by, and lends its own influence to, other religions. Many Jewish and pagan elements were introduced to Catholicism and Catholicism is a major influence in various types of mysticism, including voodoo. The Second Vatican Council decided that people had a right to their cultures and that other people’s beliefs and practices are more than just superstitions and that diversity of religious expression is good for the faith. As a result, it’s not uncommon for Catholics from non-Western cultures to add their influence to their worship. For example, Chinese and other Asian Catholics routinely incorporate shamanism, Taosim, and Buddhism into their worship. Anyway, my point is that I try to discuss these issues of religious and national identity in my story. If you wanted to read it, I think you would really get a lot out of it even if you aren’t Catholic.

      Actually, one of the heroines of my story is an atheist that DOESN’T get converted by the end of the series. And yes, I do get criticism for that.

      As for my main point about exercise, you hit the nail right on the head. While I don’t deny that being athletic can be a gift, I feel that our society devalues those gifts that aren’t athletic. I remember, when I was in high school, you could be involved in every activity under the sun, but if at least one of them wasn’t a sport, no one gave a fuck. However, if you were a band student, a Mathlete, AND a jock, well that was just peachy! That person is SO talented and well-rounded, you know? No one knew who designed the set of the school musical, but everyone knew the center of the basketball team.

      • Mulberry permalink
        May 3, 2012 12:59 pm

        Now there’s a pet peeve of mine – why does a math group have to be called Mathletes? It always sounds like they’re trying to give math more cachet by borrowing some of the glamor of sports activities. Like math is somehow lower status and needs to be made more attractive by working in the word athlete.
        What about us nerds with the opposite opinion? I like math but hate exercise – exercise is something I do so as not to fossilize completely. It’s one of life’s little necessities, but frequently winds up giving me an emotional low.

        • May 3, 2012 4:42 pm

          Thanks for this. You pointed out something that I missed but that’s 100% true. In our culture that prizes athletics, people try to co-opt features of athlete culture to appear more legitimate. I also see people using fitness as a metaphor. One of the most egregious is ethical fitness. I often see people say that ethical fitness is like physical fitness in that, in you don’t exercise it regularly, you grow weak. Yeah, I understand how the analogy is supposed to work. You use it, you lose it, but the healthist imagery still blows my mind.

      • May 3, 2012 3:33 pm

        so is there a place to go to READ any of these stories? as someone with a comparative religious studies degree, im intrigued. i LOVE studying religion and the way it works and integrates itself into our lives. Personally, i’d say im a secular humanist with spiritual leanings, but i adhere to no one religion. cant wait to read these and see the inner workings of the catholic church.

        • May 3, 2012 4:11 pm

          I can send my material to you if you’d like. I’m seeking out a publisher still and doing some revising. Any feedback is appreciated.

  3. May 3, 2012 12:20 pm

    I know how that is. I went to school for Ecology and I’ve worked at national parks, forests, and fish & wildlife refuges. I’ve met and worked with dozens of people. In this line of environmental work, a good 50-75% of those are a certain type of people like hippies–connected to the earth, very outdoorsy, often vegetarian, adventurous, etc… And I always felt sort of disconnected from them for all of these reasons. I was interested in the environment, but I didn’t feel the need to hike in sandals. I never wanted to kayak, go sky diving, hike on 14-day back country trips, or especially rock climbing. Heck, I didn’t even really enjoy hiking that much and that’s like their bible activity. And since I ate meat….I was a different class of person. It’s not even like I’m judging a class of people based on one experience; like I said, I’ve met dozens of people and this is after 5 years of internships and seasonal work that brought me from school in upstate NY to Utah, northern NV and southern NV, FL briefly, and Montana.

    All of these reasons might be contributing to why I feel like a career change is needed. Among other reasons, of course, but….I just don’t feel like I belong in this “class” of people. I’ve always felt like less. My sister felt it too, while we worked together. When we said we were going down to Vegas for the weekend instead of camping in Death Valley in the middle of summer, nobody could understand our way of thinking. We wanted to spend time in a dirty, commercial, noisy city instead of a dry, desolate, peaceful desert? I always just felt…apart. (by the way, we were working at the time in the desert every day, outside, on a wildlife refuge).

    When are you going to get your book published? I’d like to see it someday. It sounds like the type of story my family and younger cousins would love.

    My sister and I wrote a story together. It’s about different kinds of desert animals who are thrown together into a sort of fellowship on a quest to save the world. I don’t know if it’ll ever get published and it still needs editing work. After doing a little research I decided I wanted to learn how to draw and watercolor for it myself since it’d cost a hell of a lot of money to pay someone to illustrate it for us (not to mention I have some *perfect* pictures in my head for certain scenes). I haven’t begun that yet, but I hope to start practicing soon. For someone who has always been terrible at drawing and art, it’s sort of terrifying and I’m afraid of failing.

    Anyway, that was off topic. Thanks for the post. I wish people could just accept “to each his own” rather than urging people to do what *they* do all the time.

    • May 3, 2012 4:46 pm

      I want to get my book published over the summer, but I still need to find someone to accept it.:) Anyway, I will surely be shouting it to the skies on my blog when someone picks it up. You can check periodically if you want for updates.

      I know exactly what you mean when you say you don’t “fit in.” You might be accomplishing your goals, but other people will tell you you are doing it in the wrong way. I had people tell me that my former job was not “real” exercise and that I was being lazy by not doing more when I get home. Ditto for socializing. I tire of being told that I don’t socialize enough and that I’m an introvert because of it.

  4. May 3, 2012 12:26 pm

    And there are the studies which conclude that *thinking* about moving a muscle (or muscles used to walk, dance etc. in my opinion) is more effective than moving the muscle as far as strength goes.

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportspsychology/a/thinkstrong.htm

    “Researchers hope these results will assist in the therapy of stroke and spinal cord injury patients, and possibly injured athletes. The researchers believe that anyone who has difficulty doing physical exercises can use mental training methods to improve the muscle strength they have lost or maintain the muscle strength they have.”

  5. LittleBigGirl permalink
    May 3, 2012 1:42 pm

    This was a very timely post for me. I am going through a very emotional time right now and people can’t see emotional struggles the way they see physical struggles.
    My therapist pointed out that our bodies don’t make the deferential between physical and mental/emotional exertion – that’s why depression can be as physically exhausting as running a 10k.
    Physically I get moderate exercise but in my head? I’m a friggin Olympic athlete. When my anxiety level is high enough my brain runs itself ragged. Don’t tell me I’m not exerting myself enough.

    And a raised glass of whateveryourpoison to people who either literally or metaphorically work their butts off researching – I have a writing project that has me spending hours online and around the city scoping out statues and public art work.

    Just because we aren’t moving doesn’t mean we aren’t working just as hard.

    • May 3, 2012 9:51 pm

      Oh, sing it. Aspies are never mentally still. My brain’s always racing. I get tired and people ask me why, given I’ve barely moved all day.

      • May 3, 2012 10:32 pm

        Speaking of barely moving, did you know that fidgeting can be a form of aerobic exercise? It’s called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and it can “increase metabolic rate substantially” and have a cumulative positive effect? I really want to interview the guy who’s an expert on it, but I forget his name.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  6. vesta44 permalink
    May 3, 2012 5:12 pm

    I like (sarcasm) the people who say that the exercise you get on the job isn’t really exercise. It’s only exercise if you go to the gym or actually do it in your leisure time. I’ve had jobs where I was on my feet and moving from the time I got to work until the time I got to go home (except for a lunch break, and maybe a couple of 10 minute breaks during the shift, if I was lucky). By the time I got home from work, I didn’t have the energy to do any other kind of exercise, let alone the motivation – hell, I was lucky if I had enough energy to nuke something to eat. When I went to data entry and was sitting all day long, that wasn’t physically demanding, but let me tell you, processing rebates and doing order resolve is one of the most mentally challenging jobs I’ve ever had. Fixing the things that consumers can screw up, or the things that other data entry operators can screw up, researching in data bases, and dealing with the companies whose rebates we handled – not a job I would wish on my worst enemy (even though I was good at it, there were days that I went home so mentally exhausted that I swore I was going to quit). That mental exhaustion is a huge barrier to doing any kind of physical exercise, even if you want to, even if you know you should, even if you know you need to.

    • May 3, 2012 8:12 pm

      I completely agree. Many jobs are physically demanding, and it’s not just men doing these jobs. At mine, I am lifting and moving around boxes and furniture up to 70 pounds without help (technically as a rule, I am supposed to have help for anything over 50 but sometimes no one is around to do so) so I do it myself. Then we are required to walk quickly (and by that I mean as fast as one can walk without actually starting to jog) from each destination. It’s definitely a work out that rivals a session at the gym. I could come home every day and do nothing but sit on my butt and I would consider myself moderately active from my job itself, but there was things like hoop dancing that I do leisurely, plus I clean and do house chores that requires physical effort and strain, so I wouldn’t quite consider myself an athlete but I am more active than most people I know personally.

      I also agree with Shannon that a lot of people have built their lives around doing jobs and activities where they don’t have to be very physically active, which is not to say they necessarily set it up that way or purpose, but I understand how it can be easy to get into a daily routine of not having to do any physical working that would be considered aerobic at all, because I did it myself when I was in college. I sat in classes and around campus for 7 hours a day, came home, ate dinner, messed around online, went to bed, repeat. Back then my parents didn’t make me do any house chores or cleaning so I hardly ever got my heart pumping fast for anything, other than maybe a homework deadline but not anything from physical effort.

    • May 4, 2012 10:37 am

      Exactly. My job is 8 hours of walking and lifting boxes. 5 days a week. When I joined a gym several years ago my supervisor was dumfounded, because we do so much at work. I always laugh when people suggest that my job isn’t exercise. Most people that I know couldn’t do this.

      • May 4, 2012 2:47 pm

        I think it’s smart that you joined a gym, given your job. Years ago, I was traveling across country, loved Key West and decided to stay awhile. I got a job on the next island over, on a golf course. The first week, they hired a bunch of us and then sought to weed out those who couldn’t hack it. They had us on our knees all day, in the sand, edging and weeding sand traps! (I think I still have sand embedded in my knees.) It was the first labor job I’d had, and I was so sore after that first week, that even though I was in damn good shape back then, I realized I shold join a gym to get a very good full body workout, because physical labor is not intented for health and fitness, but to get the task done, and can really overuse some parts and ounderuse others. It was then that I realized that no matter what job I had, I always needed to do more exercise than whatever the job required, so that I had more stamina, and overall fitness to not get injured, and to not feel exhausted from the work. So I think what you are doing is a smart idea. Even though I’m a lot more out of shape today, I’m on my feet a lot for my job, so I walk and do exercises in addition, so that I’m awways fitter than the job requires, so I can feel good and not get injured, and do my job with enough energy and enthusiasm 🙂 I’m trying to build up the quad strength to start bicycling again, which I was took weak to resume after recuperating from a surgery several years ago. Running errands on the bike gets me off my feet and works my forearms and back a bit, and it’s fun for short distances (zooming around, hopping off curbs;)

  7. lifeonfats permalink
    May 3, 2012 6:35 pm

    I currently work as a receptionist. Most of my job involves sitting and answering the phone but I also have to file, which means a lot of bending, stooping and stretching at times. Because of a pinched nerve, I have to be careful otherwise I will aggravate it and that leads to a lot of pain. So when people complain that others aren’t getting the physical activity they apparently should, they need to put away their social judgments and stop to think maybe they aren’t because they have to take it easy.

    A lot of the attitude, at least in Western society, I attribute to the American mindset of “you must always be moving and on the go, constantly working at something, or you’re lazy and worthless.” We have that mindset in our workplaces and in our personal lives and perhaps if we were a lot more forgiving and a lot less intrusive, we would be better off.

    • May 3, 2012 9:40 pm

      Bree,
      I hope you didn’t take my comments as a swipe against office workers. When I said “office workers, like me” I meant those whose jobs require them to sit in front of a computer all day. I also always try to stipulate that our activity level is dependent upon both ability and personal interest. I don’t judge anyone for their personal choices, but I do want to get the info out there that I know about physical fitness.

      If I offended you, I’m sorry.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • lifeonfats permalink
        May 4, 2012 6:04 pm

        I actually glossed over your reply, LOL! I was venting about the American workplace culture, where we are made to feel guilty about taking sick time, vacation and personal time, or having downtime at work because it’s somehow seen as being lazy. Then they complain about the productivity of workers. Meanwhile other countries give their employees more generous leave. That’s really what I was getting at.

        • May 5, 2012 9:51 pm

          Paranoia paranoia everybody’s comin’ to get me. 🙂

          Peace,
          Shannon

  8. May 3, 2012 6:57 pm

    Through my teen years and early 20s, I was pretty sedentary. I would have much rather be online than outside doing anything. I feel like I had a pretty active childhood. I played outside a lot, loved to swim, do gymnastics, and used our trampoline a lot. Then my teen years hit and I just wanted to chill out…all the time. Then I got a job stocking shelves at a retail store which required a lot of heavy lifting and fast paced walking. It took me a few months to get used to using my muscles that much but I pushed though (I had to in order to pay bills, and working fast food job made me homicidal) so, (jk about the homicidal, sort of)….but I learned to get more used to being physically active in a way that wasn’t leisurely. I figure that life is going to require my body to be active in ways I am not always going to enjoy so I should just get used to it now. Three years later, I still have the same job and now I actually have biceps that don’t resemble Olive Oil anymore! Haha. I like it.

    But I can relate to being told “you should” because I also hear it every day in regards to several areas of my life. It’s annoying and I wish if people wanted to make a suggestion, they could at least say “you COULD” instead of “you should” because that takes away the idea that if I don’t then I am doing something wrong. Sure, I am willing to listen to suggestions on things that work for people, but I would like to hear it as an option, not as a responsibility.

  9. Rubyfruit permalink
    May 4, 2012 12:25 pm

    Physical activity can be loads of fun for me. When someone tacks a “You Should” onto something, and then I try it after enough “You Should”s, that activity becomes less and less fun.

    And I can relate. I live in Ohio–though in a major city, so it’s less like Varsity Blues/Friday Night Lights, where if you’re not part of a sports team, you’re a nobody–but there was still this overemphasis on being a super-athlete. It didn’t help that I had two siblings, both younger than I am, who are way more athletically gifted and extroverted than I ever was. I have more than a few memories that range from the annoying to the painful when it comes to forced physical or social activity.

    It’s the force that was and still is wrong. And as far as I can remember, isn’t forcing social activity the worst thing to do to an introverrted child? At least when I was being forced into social situations where I wasn’t comfortable, it was akin to being taught how to swim by being thrown into the deep end.

    And sorry for the topic-jumping ramble.

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