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!

The Floor is Made of Lava! and other Saturday fun

I did something really old-fashioned this morning: I filled a bucket with hot soapy water, got down on my hands and knees, and scrubbed the kitchen floor. And the laundry floor, but somehow that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The Unknown Girl Behind the Sea Battle- the work of the Women's Royal Naval Service, 1942 D7279

There is fun to be had, even in such a task! But before you picture me as one of those women (if indeed any such exist) who enjoy crawling across a wet dirty floor dragging a heavy bucket about, let me assure you, the scrubbing itself is not the attraction, although there is a certain satisfaction in seeing pristine cleanliness where once – well, let us draw the veil of charity over what it looked like before!

The really fun bit of scrubbing the floor is drying it – rather like Amélie’s mother enjoying polishing the parquet with her slippers. Where else in one’s daily round – all right, conscience, weekly round – all right, monthly – look, never mind how often I scrub the floors! The floor is scrubbed; let conscience be content.
How often in one’s regular (or irregular, insists my conscience) life as an adult does one have the chance to play The Floor is Made of Lava?

Pahoehoe toe

OK, if you’re a footman at Buckingham Palace, you may be called upon to skate up and down the dining table with polishing cloths tied to your feet, but we can’t all be footmen. Especially those of us who are of the female persuasion – but then, the royal website says the Royal Household “strives to ensure that all employees are able to contribute to their maximum potential, irrespective of gender” etc etc, so you never know. Any readers who are female footmen (footwomen?) in Her Majesty’s employ are welcome to comment below.

Fool that I was, I failed to take the example of the footman and Amélie’s mother. Instead of attaching the cloths to my feet, I draped a couple across the kitchen floor. All very well until I had nearly scrubbed myself out the back door and found there was nary a cloth in sight. There lay the glistening laundry floor, as barren and bare as the Arctic plain, and there was I like Frankenstein’s monster stranded on its ice floe.

Goldes hunter on skis on ice floe, with spear and rifle LCCN2004707514

Yes, it was lava, and now it’s ice. Try to keep up. No, I am not wearing skis.

In the end I simply howled for the Caped Gooseberry to come and save me, which he nobly did, hurling cloths across the intervening space like some sort of mythical giant hurling rocks into a lake of lava. (Yes! It’s lava again!) Be warned: it is dangerous out there; take a cloth with you.

Restored to the relative safety of the kitchen archipelago at last, I leapt lightly from place to place about that most crucial part of all household work: making the cup of tea. Actually, archipelago is overstating it: there were only two cloths and they were a stride away from each other, and from everything else. An arabesque enabled me to extend the kettle as far as the tap – rather like this:

2012 WFSC 07d 1072 Carolina Kostner

only more sensibly dressed. I may strand myself on a laundry ice floe without skis, but I would never wear ice skates when the floor is made of lava. Credit me with some sense 🙂

How do you have fun with your housework? I’d love to hear your ideas!