An oxymoron, some might say. But as C.S. Lewis wrote, “If one could run without getting tired [or stitch, or thistles in ones soles – DM], I don’t think one would often want to do anything else.”
Having a body that works well is enjoyable, and I am convinced that getting there can be fun as well.
So here are a few potentially fun forms of exercise to consider. Note, I say potentially fun – anything can become unfun if it becomes an onerous ought of obligation, or a grim-faced goal-oriented grind.
Walking! It’s cheap, it’s easy, and if you find some nice springy grass, it’s easy on the joints. Walking on the beach is also less high-impact than pavement, and if you feel the urge to push yourself harder, you can always walk (run) in the water à la Chariots of Fire.
Walking can be done alone, with a friend or significant other, with a dog, or even with your cow. Er, bull. Definitely.
And while we’re at the beach, consider swimming – also very easy on the joints. Of course, beach swimming may be too cold for some or most of the year, but this is why we have indoor swimming pools.
“Swimming” can include water-based games, too – tag, water polo, or aquatic Calvinball. Just keep an eye out for bulls.
Harder on the joints, but nostalgically invigorating, is skipping. You can skip from A to B, skip in place, or even try some of the more advanced moves mentioned in the Wikipedia article, such as the Awesome Annie, the Inverse Toad, or the James Hirst. (“The jumper performs a backflip into a split and then back to a skip in the upright position.” Do not try this at home unless you have a paramedic osteopath on speed-dial.)
Skipping is a good illustration of how no matter how fun and jubilant an activity is, it can still be made into a joyless chore. Exhibit A: the U.S. military.
One can’t quite imagine them chanting skipping rhymes. (Feel free to write a suitable one in the comments section.)
And speaking of activities which should not be made into joyless chores, Robert Heinlein wrote that “Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.” To which I would add that returning love to the equation by no means diminishes the healthiness of the exercise – in fact, if one considers emotional health, quite the opposite.
And then there’s the whole area of dance. This includes everything from slow stretchy interpretive dance to a riotous cinquepace to acro to those enjoyable circle dances which go faster and faster until either the dancers or the furniture all fall down.
But as the saying goes, the best form of exercise is the one you actually do. The challenge now is to incorporate a few more of these forms of fun into my everyday life. For which I shall need a skipping rope, and someone who knows the cinquepace. Off we go!