Aug 15, 2022

Exorcising Exercise: An Admitted Exercise

At last! A finding I can live with! Or in spite of!

By Ed Goldman

A recent headline in the Wall Street Journal goes a long way toward explaining why my annual subscription renewal is never in peril: “Are You Exercising Too Much?”

I don’t know how I was able to read the subsequent story, since tears of gratitude were bubbling from my eyes amid huskily coughed out sobs of “Yes! Yes! Thank God I’m not alone!”

Edgy Cartoon

Nocturnal Habit

The story’s opening sentences still move me like nothing else has since Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and when Bob Dylan not only won the Nobel Prize for Literature but also was too busy to show up at the ceremony: “When it comes to exercise, conventional wisdom holds that more is better. But that’s not necessarily true.”

Comments like this can bring out the sports-bar loudmouth in me as I declaim in response, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Or, if I want to sound “woke” and current, a simple, smugly uttered, “Right?!”

It’s not as though I don’t like to exercise. It’s EXACTLY that I don’t like to exercise.

But let me clarify: I love to take walks in nature as long as nobody calls them “hikes.” And, for most of my adult life, I’ve had a chin-up bar stretched across the doorway of every one of my home offices, which I actually use almost daily (and not to hang jackets from). But I refuse to acknowledge it’s for exercise. It’s for MBP (man-boob prevention). Which means, let’s face it, it’s for vanity.

“Scientists are increasingly evaluating the possible damage that too much exercise can do if you don’t allow enough time to rest,” the incredibly trenchant article continues, adding “Recent research from Sweden suggests that too much high-intensity exercise may impair cell functioning. In addition, other scientists are looking at why over-exercising can lead to stress fractures, poor sleep and other problems.”

Well, consider the following:

Q: Have people ever torn their ACLs while watching reruns of “Seinfeld”? 

A: Only if they were watching the reruns while on an exercycle or treadmill and laughed so hard they fell off.

Q: Have people ever suffered stress fractures from having a second drink at home?

A: Only if they got up from the couch to go get it and tripped over Maurice, their dozing labradoodle.

Naturally, the article has to include the occasional and worthless Other Side of the Issue (oh, spare me). 

“Medical professionals aren’t saying you shouldn’t exercise,” the story dutifully reports. After all, “Exercise builds bone density, counters muscle atrophy and protects against chronic diseases.”

Okay, one at a time:

– Who wants dense bones? And isn’t saying somebody’s “dense” or “a bonehead” somewhat interchangeable?

– If you want to muscle in on atrophy counter, break into an awards store. (All right. The wordplay police just notified me I’m a person of interest. If not a writer of same.)

– What if your “chronic disease” happens to be repeatedly tearing your ACL?

I think the best take on the subject may have come from Brett Ely, an assistant professor of nutrition and physical performance as well as exercise science, at Salem State U in Massachusetts. “I describe exercise as strategically applied trauma,” she told the Journal.

I wonder if she has any openings in her classes this fall. And if they’re not on the second floor.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).