Issue #28 — 4.1 minute read
👋 Hey phi-lazy-phers
Regular exercise is not about looking a certain way or getting to a certain weight. The best benefit of exercise, in my opinion, is the effect it has on our mental health. Regular exercise not only reduces the risk of depression, it also reduces stress and anxiety while improving one’s mood, sleep, memory, and thinking skills.
You don’t need to lift weights, run a marathon, or do a thousand sit-ups to get these mental perks (although, many people do like those activities). The important part is finding an activity you enjoy, making it easier to stick with, thus reaping the long-term, compounding benefits. Biking, rock climbing, yoga, mushroom foraging, dancing, walking. These are all examples of fun activities that clear up our mental fog while also being good for our physical health.
I saw a comment on Reddit a while back that referenced Kevin Ng’s quote, “Exercise is a celebration of what the body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.” Practicing thankfulness that my body is able to exercise at all has shifted my mindset about the entire process.
If you haven’t found a fun exercise yet, keep looking. Or try something you didn’t like in the past—who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it this time around.
Of course, the idea that exercise is good for us is not new. Many folks, including philosophers, have been vocal about its importance for ages:
Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.
Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states.
It is a shame for one to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which their body is capable.
Henry David Thoreau
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live! Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow...A thousand rills which have their rise in the sources of thought burst forth and fertilize my brain.
We do not 'have' a body; rather, we 'are' bodily.
Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.
In every real adult, a child is hidden that wants to play.
Walking: the most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.
Movement is almost synonymous with life. With elongating stems and twirling tendrils, plants race one another toward light.
Being the healthiest version of yourself is the most selfless thing you can do for the people who love you.
An important aspect of exercise not often talked about is rest. After getting back into running recently, I’ve realized days off are just as important as days on. Whether you exercise regularly or you’re thinking of starting, make sure you listen to your body and rest when it asks for it. Go at your own pace, not someone else’s. As Hippocrates said, “Rest, as soon as there is pain, is a great restorative in all disturbances of the body.”
Lastly, here are a few great resources on how to create and maintain a habit of regular exercise (apologies for the two clickbaity titles, I promise the content of each is insightful):
Move More…But for the Right Reasons [Happiness Lab Podcast]
3 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit [James Clear]
6 Truths About Exercise Nobody Wants to Believe [James Clear]
✌️Until next week, happy philosophizing.
Philosophy Phocus: Nihilism
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