So women aren’t getting enough ‘vigorous’ exercise? One more scolding that we can do without | Alex Clark

men the latest round of nagging women and pretending it’s for their own good, comes the news that we’re not getting enough exercise, at least of the “vigorous” kind. According to Nuffield Health, 47% of the women they surveyed hadn’t engaged in activities like running, swimming or a gym class that would help keep them fit and healthy in mind and body; notably more than men, of whom only a little over a third responded in a similar way. Two-thirds of the women and half of the men mentioned a lack of motivation; other reasons included not knowing where to start and simply not having enough time.

To be clear, it is not Nuffield who is scolding, but rather what we might call the speech that received his findings, which immediately began discussing issues of child care deficits and the heavier burden of unpaid work that continues to fall on women and that prevents them from getting to Zumba. But while these barriers to exercise are demonstrably valid, they also reinforce the idea that we’re failing to do something we should.

Despite an early and traumatic encounter with a school show jumping horse, I’m here to praise abs, not bury them. Taking care of your physical self clearly pays off, especially when the passage of time threatens to crack your joints and sag your energy; and we all feel better after a brisk walk (widely reported).

Perhaps it is the notion of vigor that prompts my caution, especially since it is surely subjective and does not take into account an individual’s starting point. For those who are out of shape, or who have mobility and other health problems, cooling down a person can represent an unattainable goal (apparent or real). Nuffield recommends an incremental approach—for example, increase your 10,000 daily steps starting with 2,000—but even that tough mile will be daunting for many.

Others have a more Bartleby-like response to exercise: they would simply rather not do it, perhaps because of a visceral aversion, or they find it boring, or because their time is taken up with things they consider more important. Perhaps, in fact, those things are More importantly, they involve taking care of others, or volunteering to help those outside your own circle, or even dealing with personal issues bigger than lack of muscle tone. I say it like this, rather than maintaining cardiovascular health or building core strength, because the dividing lines are still blurred between physical fitness and presenting one’s outer body to others, no matter how many chia seed smoothie recipes produce the wellness industry. .

Of course, it’s hard to imagine a modern equivalent of American fitness instructor Debbie Drake, who in 1960 became the first woman to host a daily fitness television show and who released an album titled How to keep your husband happy. (If you need a pick-me-up between squats, check out her appearance on The Johnny Carson Show, in which she, in a frilly yellow leotard and sheer black tights, brought in the talk show host, who had taken off the least. suit jacket but not his tie, in the magic of hip undulations.) But the message that, nowadays, keeping fit is primarily a duty of care for oneself is often betrayed around us. , sometimes subtly and sometimes noticeably.

So it is, for example, that the body positivity movement has to deal with the great health concern of older women, when mere digging reveals that concern to be disgust and revulsion.

Rather than despair at our own inability to measure up, redefining success might help. On a book podcast I host, my co-host and I regularly start with a two-minute talk on gardening, and the horticultural element of our correspondence far outweighs the literary. While dead pruning may not be vigorous, digging over a vegetable patch certainly is, and so are mowing lawns, large-scale pruning, and mounting bags of well-rotted manure. Why shouldn’t that count as my exercise and lift me out of the ignorant 47%? Does the same go for the disco in the kitchen, the pet fights, the countless trips up and down the middle aisle of the supermarket and struggling with an oversized duvet in its cover?

Meanwhile, the world outside our bodies needs our attention: as almost everyone has noticed, we’re not doing very well. Indeed, a healthy body and mind might help us meet the challenges ahead, but self-harm surely won’t.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.