Disclaimer: This blog post may offend you, make you feel less accomplished than you currently do and/or directly conflict with advice provided by your medical practitioner.
But please, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll read on.
Because it’s time to clear up some very prevalent confusion about the definitions of the terms “workout” and “exercise,” which are being used mistakenly interchangeably with words that simply describe basic functions of the human body.
Taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator does not count as exercise. Unless you’re walking up them on your hands, you do not get points for taking a flight (or several) between floors. I can give you a quick Anatomy 101 tutorial right here by explaining to you that your knees – those ingenious hinge joints that they are – were designed to bend. So put them to use. They might surprise you. They’ve actually told me that they think elevators and the people who use them are lame.
Now, while we’re at it, can we please refrain from responding with “I walked the dog yesterday” when asked about the last time you worked out? Starting and stopping with Fido around the block barely even counts as exercise for the participant with four legs, let alone the upright human with two. What Fido really wants to do is jump and run, and you should absolutely follow his cue. Just don’t expect me to throw you a bone for doing so. Because in the real world, doing what is necessary is not followed with rewards.
Speaking of necessary, dear God, let’s address the act of walking. Unless you’re my 91 year old grandmother, walking – I don’t care how far – doesn’t count as “cardio” or any other clever word you’d like to use to put a spin on the fact that you’re simply doing what your body is naturally propelled to do. So parking your car in the furthest spot of the lot should not be considered a strategy. I mean, did you ever think of how many miles your legs would have had to walk to where you were going before there were cars?
I hope, at this point, you’re seeing a pattern here. Because I am. Because somehow, in our so-far-gone, more-is-less society, we’ve justified our bad behaviors by building in pats on the back to things we should be expected to do. Only in a country of super-sizing and soda slurping do citizens get credit for walking, for riding a bike with their kids or for even playing a casual game of golf. Yes, there is movement involved in every instance, but as we learned in Anatomy 101, that’s what the body wants to do.
Obviously, everything is relative, and I get that. When you’re recovering from the flu, walking to the mailbox may feel like the equivalent of lifting a compact car. But the point is that we should not allow extremes to define our physical parameters, nor should we grant ourselves credit for things that should be as fundamental to our days as brushing our teeth. There’s a difference between exercise and activity, people. One is essential. The other transforms.