I had an epiphany about exercise this morning. About length 16 it was. I spent the remaining 14 lengths, (or maybe the remaining 12 lengths – I tend to lose count around length 23), thinking about it.
My rather damp epiphany is that half the vaunted benefits of exercise are in fact just placebos and I am immune to them. This is the reason why lycra-clad gym-bunnies assume that I am being stupid, mad, stroppy or all three when I tell them that, no, exercise does not make me feel good.
I can only manage swimming for half an hour if I approach it as a meditation practice and concentrate on doing the perfect stroke. And then the next one. And then the next one. The mindfulness of swimming. Feel the water around your nostrils and on your upper lip. Etc.
- No. I don’t have more energy afterwards. Placebo.
- No. I don’t need less sleep. Placebo.
- No. It does not put me in a better mood. Placebo.
- No. I don’t enjoy it at the time. Placebo.
- No. I don’t enjoy it afterwards. Placebo.
- No. I have never ever found myself getting addicted to it. Placebo.
- Or even used to it, really.
- No, no, NO it is NOT – heaven spare us all – fun. Place-ee-frotting-BO. OK?
I swim with gritted teeth and go to the gym in a state of desperation crossed with Calvinist bloody-mindedness because you don’t see fat people in their 50s, because my mother disabled herself through sustained inactivity, because (and only because) it is Good For Me.