I have been wondering lately about the effectiveness of exercising. If you look at life a couple generations ago, folks worked physically, but they weren’t power-lifting and running miles upon miles to stay fit and trim.
So what were our ancestors doing to remain in good health and shape? First, let’s not neglect the fact that cars weren’t everywhere and that those who lived in towns often were able to walk wherever they needed to go. The days of small town living with a grocery store in walking distance are long gone—suburbia is here.
What else did our predecessors do? Not only did they walk, but they rode bicycles and generally did more outside than we do today. Computers weren’t even dreamed of at that point, and television didn’t rule their days and nights like it does now.
They also ate less than we do today. Have you noticed that portions are getting larger and larger as prices go up? Americans really want their ‘money’s worth’ when it comes to eating out, and we’ve become very accustomed to large plates mounded with food. Our great-grandparents wouldn’t have considered eating until they were gorged—oftentimes, there wasn’t enough food to go around the table of the larger families.
So all of this brings me to my ultimate question: Is going to a gym and working out really necessary?
If we forget about our ancestors, let’s look at a more ‘modern’ example found in our Amish and Mennonite communities. These individuals don’t partake in gym workouts, and they won’t be seen jogging the roads at 5:30 a.m. Yet they are typically more fit than many personal trainers? So what gives?
They walk. They move. They bend. They work. They eat when they’re hungry, stop when they’re full, and enjoy a simple lifestyle. They have no computers or televisions to sit and stare at all day (or night), and they don’t have washing machines and dryers to do their laundry chores.
Think I’m making this up? Try washing all of your clothes by hand on a washboard, wringing each piece out, and then lugging a large basket of wet things to a clothesline to hang out. You’ll build muscles you didn’t even know you had!
Could it be that simple? Could just going about our daily lives and moving more be the answer to physical fitness? I think that, added to a sensible eating plan, could very well be the nirvana to the quest for fitness in our country.