One silly misapprehension that's keeping you from getting active

A significant number of people I’ve met have one grievously silly misapprehension that’s keeping them from getting enough activity to feel better and be in better shape.

Let’s say you were where I was a few years ago, or where one of my friends was a few months ago. You work Silicon Valley hours, which isn’t 9 to 5. You’ve got stuff to do, a house to clean, friends to spend time with, etc. And you know you should get some exercise, because the popular press is always going on about how we’re an increasingly fat and lazy and out-of-shape country and how it means you’ll die at the age of 40 or something. But you don’t have time, without ending up with, at best, a dirty bathtub and grimy kitchen. At worst, you’ll end up with your only regular social contact being the guy who grunts obnoxiously and clangs his weights at the gym.

Even worse, when you get home, you’ll be so drained that all you’ll be able to do is watch TV and drool.

At least, that’s what I used to think. Which is why I was so inactive for many years.

This is a huge and fairly silly misapprehension. Unless you make a big production out of getting some good physical activity, you will end up having more time to do the stuff you want to do if you get a modest amount of regular exercise.

Now, when you start up an exercise program, your body is going to spend a lot of time reminding you that it’s used to being slothful. But that goes away, assuming you don’t have any major medical problems. If you get used to doing a half-hour to an hour of exercise a day, you’ll be more energized after the exercise. And you’ll spend fewer hours a week in that slothful drooling state where you barely have enough brain power to watch TV or surf the web once you get going.

This is why jogging and cycling and rollerblading and similar activities are so awesome. You don’t need to make a big production out of it; you can just roll out your front door and go for it. If you spend fifteen minutes each way driving to the gym so you can ride on a stationary bike for twenty minutes, you are making a big production out of exercise and probably won’t end up reaping the sort of gains you would if you just got out for a bit. I’ve been there. If I had a workout program that involved going to the gym, I wouldn’t stick with it.

It’s the same thing as athletes before a competition. Do they ride in on electric scooters? No, they get warmed up so that they’ll have enough energy to compete.

And, while I’m on the subject, even with the people I know who really love to drive, the “extra” time you spend taking transit might also not be the waste of time you think. Driving is fun when you are alone on a winding road with beautiful scenery. It’s never fun when you are packed on a congested highway with a bunch of idiots. You will be less tired and negative if you can sit there and enjoy the scenery, read a book, or play on your smartphone. And you can often include a good walk or bike ride as part of this process in lieu of trying to deal with transfers and stuff, which means that you can get exercise while you are at it as well.