Exercise

runner silhouettePerhaps it’s a bit much to ask the average Jill to enjoy exercise. It is possible – there are many that do. But your average every day person has  hard time with it. Witness all the resolutions that end up in the dust bin. You don’t think people actually buy treadmills because they have decided that that is the best possible place to hang clothes, do you?

There are a couple of things at work here. The first thing is that we as animals are designed to do the least possible work. Evolution mandates that you expend enough energy to track down food and mate.  That’s about it. There is no ingrained drive to make sure you have toned abs or a killer butt. Humans have to rely on their higher brain functions to fool themselves into thinking that that’s a good idea.

Now some people do manage to connect the idea of staying in shape with the primal urge to procreate. You will see them at the gym and on the street. They are hard to miss because they are incredible physical specimens that never miss a run or a lifting session. But that is probably not you.

So no matter what you are probably going to have to convince yourself on a daily basis to get up off your laziness and do some sort of physical activity, if for no other reason than that you have something against dying young. You can make this easier on yourself by finding an activity or series of activities that you enjoy at least a bit.

Stop expecting that you are going to find something to do that excites you  every day. That’s not likely to happen, and it’s really not likely to happen if you never get off the couch and try new stuff. Perhaps you can motivate yourself by finding a like-minded group of people who get together to go hiking or something. Having other people that you enjoy spending time with who expect you to be there can help a lot with the initial inertia involved in getting out the door when there’s chores to do or binge watching to be done.

Or maybe you just do’t get excited by spending time with others (you should, by the way. It’s one of the big factors in longevity.) In that case you are going to have to find a solitary pursuit that interests you. Have you tried jogging recently? Just because you hated to run when you were younger doesn’t mean that you still do. It could be that your preferences have changed and you are doing yourself a disfavor by not revisiting this simple form of exercise. After walking, running has to be about the easiest and most inexpensive way to get in shape there is.

If running is just not your cup of tea, then maybe have a look at the old standby. Every kid likes to bike, and most adults likely enjoy the simple pleasure of moving through the countryside on top of a two wheeler. Where the idea runs into trouble is in our youth when we join the ideas of exercise with the images of the Tour de France and multi speed road bikes. The truth is that getting in a bit of shape riding a bike doesn’t have to involve bombing down the highway on top of some skinny tired technological marvel.

Check out the new hybrid bikes. For example a single speed beach cruiser might be just the ticket for you. A bicycle like this can truly take you back in time when there was only biking. Just hop on and go, no worries about shifting gears, nor about if you are pushing yourself hard enough. You’re trying to get in a bit of shape while having a good time, not trying to impress anybody with your acumen.

That’s just a couple-three ideas, I’m sure if you think a bit you’ll come up with something that you enjoy that involves at least a bit of movement. Gardening, yoga, frisbee. Anything that gets you moving at all is good for you. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Food

appleThe other thing that is important for a long and happy life is food.

You’ve got to be sensible and balanced when it comes to food. Always have a look at the stuff that every Tom, Dick and Harry tells you to watch for. Nutrients and additives and vitamins and chemicals (GMO’s and pesticides and natural and that stuff if you care). But don’t forget that food is one of life’s simple pleasures.

We are designed to enjoy food. Why would we not be. So food in and of itself can be good for your psyche. Why else would their be something called comfort food? But beyond that it may be that there is something to be learned from other cultures beyond the diet fads we hear about.

You often hear about the Mediterranean diet. It is supposedly full of stuff that is good for you. At least good for you in the eyes of some of the dietitians working in the food advice business these days. But as we should all be well aware of by now, that advice is subject to change on a moments notice. Eggs are good for you? Where did that come from?

So if we take on face value that the food is good for you, even then we might not be taking in the full story. Look at the rituals that go with eating in some parts of the world. The rituals that mean that eating can be a social lubricant. Cultures where you sit down for a mean with family and friends and take the time to enjoy not only the food itself, but also the company of others.

Contrast that to this country. Where food is something to be thrown together and eaten at the coffee table while consuming the latest reality fare on the boob tube. No conversation allowed that might get in the way of hearing the latest confrontation between Tiffany and Biff. Taking time to enjoy the meal would just get in the way of the rest of life. Of the important things like going places and doing things. Or of catching up on the latest facebook shenanigans of those people who you profess to be friends with but have never met.

Food. It’s important. But not just in the way you think.

Enjoy

Life.

That’s it. Enjoy life.

No matter what anyone says, that is the underlying secret to health and happiness. If you are enjoying yourself you are very unlikely to be stressed and stress has to be one of the biggest indicators for not having a long life. The signs of years of stress and unhappiness can be seen in the lines on the face of many of the people around you. And even if those people live a long time it might be one of those, it just feels like it things.

If you are not enjoying yourself why would you even want to live a long life, a long life of misery doesn’t seem worth chasing. So number one, you should be be concentrating on doing whatever you need to reach a state of contentment (contentment is underrated as a component of true happiness. Don’t mistake happiness for fun.)

Once you get there, and if that is your goal, you will, then you can do all of the other things that will let you live a long and happy life. Get some of the right foods into you (that change can take a long time if you are a junkie), get out and do some exercising of some sort or another. Ride a bike, take a hike, do what you like, and the rest will follow.