Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Getting Off the Treadmill

The Boston Marathon GSX Treadmill (Gym Source)
What is the point of exercising if you’re only going to shrivel up and die? A well-toned body is nice, but it’s prone to atrophy. When a cast is removed from a broken leg, the sight of the diminished muscle is unnerving. Injuries or not, at a certain point you’re facing a losing battle. In order to maintain strength, you have to exercise, but the very exercising itself takes it’s toll, due to the decline of the lungs and heart. It’s a Sisyphean struggle. The Second Law of Thermodynamics underscores the entropy that’s a natural condition of all matter. Heat flows from warm to cold, but the reverse isn’t true. Contrary to what experts tell you exercise has relatively little to do with future health or how long one lives. Some people die faster than others. No pain no gain goes the popular saying, but the gains are not about the future. While the effect of exercise on longevity is purely hypothetical (with some people facing death by aerobics on the treadmill), it’s true reward comes in the here and now. Exercising is all about the present. It increases a sense of awareness and mastery and like Zen aids its practitioners in being more mindful and present. Exercising helps you to live in the moment. Mark Greif, an editor of N+1 wrote a controversial essay entitled “Against Exercise” (N+1, Issue 1, Summer 2004). If Susan Sontag’s legendary Against Interpretation made an argument for leaving art alone, Greif extended the sentiment to the body commenting that exercise is “a set of forms of bodily self-regulation that drag the last vestiges of biological life into the light as a social attraction.” The problem with Greif’s point is that he fails to make the mind/body connection. Exercise may start from the physical, but it’s value lies in its metaphysical component—which ultimately makes it a form of prayer.

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