I recently stumbled across an article on Explore Magazine online. It was written by Will Gadd and it explored the idea that as we get older – as time passes – our interests change and the physical activity that we engage with changes. This article really resonated with me. Gadd expressed something that I have been feeling but not able to understand – that I have been so obsessed with running, and specifically marathon running, that everything else feels like a compromise rather than a new interest to be embraced. I felt as though if I wasn’t specifically training for a marathon then I was cheating and there really wasn’t much point. WRONG.
Here is a section of Gadd’s article (you can read the whole thing here);
The third truth is that your sports and interests will change over time, and fighting that natural arc is counterproductive to staying fit. I used to travel with a pull-up bar and a piece of wood with small finger-holds on it. I’d hang the fingerboard in hotel room doorways; that exercise mattered to me more than anything. I haven’t done it in 20 years, and I’d likely shoot myself if I had to do it today. Hanging on to what was important in the past isn’t conducive to lifelong fitness. It’s more important to follow your interests, stay active and explore new physical skills and ideas. A little or a lot of obsession is essential for high-performance competitive sport, but life changes, and we have to change our physical expressions as well, or we’ll get bored. People who are bored with moving, stop moving. When I see a pack of elderly folks busting a move through the mall wearing coordinated track outfits, I cheer them on, and use their motivation to get my own sorry ass to a workout. Those folks probably weren’t doing that in their 20s, but they look and feel better than the other elderly people reclining in the food court.
So now I think I might be able to see everything I do, as far as physical activity is concerned, as an end in itself. As something to be cherished and enjoyed. Whether that is lifting weights, doing press-ups, running, cycling, climbing … all activity is good. And as Gadd rightly says at the end of his piece
The final truth is that fitness is worth sacrificing less important things for, and most things are, long-term, far less important than fitness … There is very little that exercise doesn’t help alleviate, from depression to diabetes to osteoporosis. Find a movement that feels good and do it with regularity. Thirty minutes of running through the streets and a fast bowl of soup is a far better use of an hour than looking at new sofa fabrics or whatever else we do at lunchtime. Blow off that work meeting to hike up a hill—when you’re 70, still being able to hike up a hill will be far more important than the meetings you missed.
It’s all so simple. Right?