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04/10/2012 @ 11:15am

My son-in-law is a runner.  Last weekend when they were visiting, he left early in the morning for some exercise.  With a strong wind blowing in his face, he headed down our county road.  After he ran a few miles, he paused to catch his breath and at just that moment, a front came through, the wind switched directions, and he had to run with the wind in his face all the way back home.

Obviously, this is clear proof that the universe disapproves of people who exercise before daylight - just the sort of thing I’ve always suspected.  I know many people - good, decent people - who think the best way to start the day is to leave the comfort of their beds to engage in some sort of sweaty, exhausting activity on roads and in gyms, and I worry about them because it seems…wrong.  

I used to exercise all the time.  Of course, I called it “work.”  When I raised hogs, every month there would be a day when a thousand or so of them would start out the day in one pen or building and end the day somewhere else.  It was a lot of exercise.  I’ve used treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles, but none of those compare to moving a pen full of 50-pound feeder pigs that don’t want to know what a new pen looks like or, my personal favorite, backing a 500-pound Landrace sow down a 100-foot alley with a bushel basket over her head.

Why a bushel basket?  Ask a hog farmer – he/she can explain.  

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in exercise.  I do it myself, almost every day.  I didn’t have to when my work consisted of lifting heavy objects and moving them long distances, but now that my work requires that I lean back in an office chair and try to think of something to write, everything is different.  I’ve found that if I still want all my joints to bend in more or less the right places and if I prefer to not buy new clothes, I need to do some sort of pointless, repetitive thing that makes me all sweaty.

No, the problem with exercise is that it can rapidly become a hobby, and the reason that’s a problem is that, as a country, we get nuts about hobbies.  

For example, I’m looking at a computer screen right now that features a 13-page article giving tips on how to do a radical new exercise called…wait for it…walking.

Yeah.  Walking.

Now, we live in a complicated world and I’m just as ready as the next guy to learn something new, but walking? Thirteen pages? Really?  My youngest granddaughter just turned one and she has already pretty much mastered the whole walking thing.  Granted, she wears diapers so if she falls backwards there is just a well-padded “thump.”  Now that seems really useful, but it didn’t even show up as one of the 13 tips for a proper walking experience.

So I guess what I’m saying is, get out there and exercise.  Just don’t get nuts about it.  And if you’re out there in the pre-dawn light, don’t be surprised if you’re running uphill and against the wind, both ways.

The universe doesn’t like a show-off.

Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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