5/02/2010

When I am King: Exexercise

When I am King...

We will exercise less and eat more.

Common wisdom and dull scientific theory say that exercise helps prolong our lives. So the time that we spend in the gym allows us to live longer and enjoy more time on this planet.

But it this actually true? That is, will we actually enjoy that time?

The problem is that we have to spend the time in the gym in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t actually enjoy my time in the gym. I like having worked out, not working out. So that hour and a half spent pushing pieces of metal around and grunting and sweating is worse than a waste of my time; it’s time that I’m actively not enjoying my time.

While it’s nice that that gym time might actually back-end load more time onto the end of my life, I wonder about the tradeoff.

First, let’s look at the numbers.

I figure I spend, on a “good” week, about six hours exercising. This doesn’t include time that I might get exercise while doing something worthwhile, like walking to a donut shop or climbing stairs because there’s no escalator or elevator handy. This six hours is dead time that I’m spending purely in the pursuit of this activity that I hate, just to stay healthy.

Six hours a week adds up to about 300 hours per year. Assuming about 15 hours per day of physically active time, my workout time amounts to about 20 days per year. Let’s assume I keel over at an overripe age of about 80. I started working out when I was about 20 (after a childhood spent developing a damn good impersonation of a sloth), so that’s 60 working-out years. That means that by the time I’m 80, I’ll have spent nearly 5 years of my life exercising (60 years * 20 days/year = 1800 days ~= 5 years). So unless exercising adds more than 5 years to my lifespan, I’ve lost in the bargain – I’ve gained some time, but I’ve lost more than that amount to a pursuit that I thoroughly detest.

Next, let’s look at the time that we'll gain by being healthy. Exercise isn’t adding any lifespan now; it’s adding it to the end of our lives. You know, that time when we’re less mobile, less happy, less mentally aware, and less employable. Our kids have written us off, our friends have died, and our interest in anything except our latest hip operation have waned. And now we get another few years to live? Oh, boy. I can’t wait.

When I am King, we will exercise less. I’m not saying that you can’t exercise if you want to. I mean, if you actually enjoy going to the gym and grunting and sweating and seeing your fellow gym members primp and preen in front of the mirrors and you like grabbing the cardio machine handles that are dripping with someone else’s bodily fluids, then by all means you should keep doing it. Because you’re enjoying it. You nut. But all of the sane people in the world will wake up and realize that we should enjoy our time more by exercising less and by doing other things instead that are actually fun.

I propose that we all take the time that we would have spent in the gym and spend it doing something we enjoy: eating donuts. We all like donuts, so it’s an irrefutable fact that more time spent eating them will lead to a life well-lived. And since donuts probably help stop up our arteries and cause heart problems, they will actually take away years at the end of our lives. This might seem sad at first. But if you think about it, this means that we will have spent more time eating donuts during a shorter life, so the proportion of our time spent enjoying life will be that much greater, and we will all die happy. Besides, they're just taking away time at the end, which doesn't sound like much fun anyway.

So get off that elliptical dreadmill and have a donut. Or three. You’ll thank me when you’re dead.
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