The alarm strikes 4:40 am. Outside the boughs rustle as white plumes bellow from neighboring buildings in the cold winter air. The bed’s warmth resists, but a gym’s call beckons. Which will it be: another hour of languid bliss or an hour of feet treading and muscles burning? With the alarm out, silence deafens, but the decision is made. “Five, four, three, two, one,” I count loudly, and like a rocket (or more like a sloth) I lift from nocturnal hibernation to half-dazedly don shorts and a t-shirt. It’s time for a predawn workout; it’s time for fitness.
Fitness, that eternal struggle to keep the body in shape and the mind in sync, is life’s prerequisite to a healthy existence. Prussian (German) philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) remarked that “True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” And yet how many of us neglect to take care of the physical for wont of working the mind? Or even worse, neglect to take care of both!
As Humboldt insinuates, the two are intertwined and to disdain one for the other will only be problematic over time. Motion is the essence of life and physical movement must be as much a part of our daily existence as eating, sleeping and thinking (Yes, some still do think). Without it, we accept lethargy and forego fitness. We accept disrepair in lieu of vitality. Stagnation and decline are inherent characteristics of a motionless life.
Yes, fit people die too. It’s no secret that life bequeaths death. But the question isn’t as much about dying as it’s about living. How we spend our time is what life’s about. Do we strive to be our best? Do we exhibit enthusiasm in everything we do? Are we full of zeal as we meet each day? If not, then it’s not life cheating us, but us cheating life. Make no mistake; the investment is ours to make, and no one but ourselves can do it for us.
And yet so many forego fitness. “I haven’t the time” says one. “It’s a nuisance” or “I’m too old” says another. Many attempt it, but few maintain it. New Years’ resolutions abound, but by March the gym ranks thin. The self-disciplined (see Self-Discipline: The Cornerstone of Meaningful Action…) see it through, but the bland give up, trading bench for couch. The gym may not be for everyone, but keeping active can be. Whether it’s walking, swimming, cycling, hiking or running, there’s always a way to partake. It’s not the way we’re active that matters; it’s that we’re active that makes the difference.
If success is geared to the priorities that we establish for ourselves, then fitness is one for the list. Small changes practiced over time yield large results, and fitness is no exception. Indeed, if there’s one activity this holds true for; it’s fitness.
The health benefits accrued from small amounts of physical activity each day are tremendous. And as much as time is a factor in our routines, there’s no excuse for not taking the stairs instead of the escalator, for not taking a walk instead of sitting for lunch, and for not cycling instead of driving to work. Excuses are a dime a dozen, but our body is only one.
Without a doubt, fitness is an eternal struggle, but integrated into our daily lives that struggle rapidly becomes an eternal joy, an eternal joy that enhances the mind and the body. And who wouldn’t want that?
Time for bed; 4:40 am arrives early…
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