Fun-Filled Forms of Exercise

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.

Child Running

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.

Giant bull Sohar

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.

US Navy 070523-N-5459S-039 Lt. Steven J. Ayling, a training administrative officer assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72), jump ropes on the flight deck of Mahan during a physical fitness workout

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.

Söndagsafton i en dalstuga utan ram

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!

March: a Sense of Power


This chapter covers a variety of concepts, from anger to synchronicity to why people would prefer to think there is no God (“Most of us are a lot more comfortable feeling we’re not being watched too closely”).

“Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves.”

This idea of anger as a marker of transgression or trespass also comes up in another book I have been reading of late: Boundaries – which is an example of synchronicity.

I will cheerfully admit that I did most of the work for this chapter fairly early on in the month (i.e. half way through it) and my mind has been elsewhere since.

I was surprised by some of the things which unburied themselves in the “Detective Work”.

“My favourite musical instrument is” the low whistle – which I have never held, let alone learned to play, although I once discovered someone in New Zealand who makes them.

“If I wasn’t so stingy with my artist I’d” buy her (her? my internal artist, like many children, doesn’t seem strongly gendered) some really flash stationery. Maybe some ink-bottles.

Pointless Archaism

“If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d” write a supermarket musical. What do I have to fear from crazy? One day I’ll do it.

I am haunted by the fear that if I commit to this writing life, if I let the dreamer loose, I won’t be able to keep making myself go back to work.

With the regular exercises, further surprises ensued.
I was supposed to describe 5 traits I like in myself as a child. I came up with one: my ability to pun. (Whether anyone else liked that in me as a child, I know not.)

That was a bit depressing, but I did better in the field of childhood accomplishments (e.g. started reading Agatha Christie at 6 1/2).

Agatha Christie

Habits! If only changing habits was as easy for me as it is for nuns. (Yes, that’s what I was like as a child.) Wasting time online, procrastinating, feeling guilty instead of getting on with things…
Physical habits are relatively easy to break, I think. It’s the ones in your mind that most closely ensnare you.

The lists of people I admire and want to meet (dead or alive) were confusing: great writers such as Chesterton, Lewis and Stoppard; and a rather strange mix of people including the Pimpernels (Scarlet and Tartan), Francis, Fanny Crosby and Edith Cavell.

If anyone can tell me what the common thread is there, I shall be much obliged to you.

In other news, I spent the entire long weekend (four days in New Zealand, Lord be praised!) in Not Writing. I meant to write, but I meant to do many other things, and it turns out four days is only four days long.

One thing which I did mean to do (and did) is create something for my Artist’s Date. It still needs a few finishing touches, but here’s a clue:

Can you guess?