I was originally going to write this blog with the most boring of all possible titles: “On Exercise.” I was going to do so merely as a literary exercise, of course, which would cause such a literary exercise to be a true exercise. This would be so because any time you want to make a topic sound boring, you simply have to put an “on” in front of it. So, instead of writing a blog entitled “How to Make Cookies,” call the blog “On Cookies” and no one will read it. But if you put “how to…” in front in it, a lot of people will read it. Add the words “world’s best” to the title, right before cookies, of course, and you’ll have an enormous readership: “How to Make the World’s Best Cookies.” Yes, that would do it.
But if you want to create a writing exercise, you don’t do that. Rather, you choose to add “on” to the word (like Theophrastus’ famous treatise “On Sweats”) and see if, even though you’ve deliberately entitled the work with the most boring title possible, you still can procure readership. But how can you do that?
Honestly I don’t think you can. So better to add something like “world’s best.” But even that might not do it, for exercise is seen by many a person as a kind of boring enterprise; that must be true or more people would do it voluntarily. But if you add the word “naked,” you will definitely garner many more readers. That is true of nearly any title. You could write “How to Bake the World’s Best Cookies Naked” and then you would have a title that would definitely turn heads. Naked is, after all, one of those words that you don’t just read right past. So, let’s consider exercising naked, if only for the sake of this literary exercise.
The Greeks exercised naked, as did the Romans. Yes, you could go to a Roman bath house, for example, and expect to see your fellow townsmen on the central mall (called a palaestra) working up a sweat completely naked. But that was not alarming to you, as you were used to seeing them in the stall-less bathrooms dropping the weight of their bowels right next to you.
Yes, you might even sit next to someone of the opposite sex and chat with him or her about business while you were doing your own business, and quite publically at that. So I think it is safe to say that “naked” can be in a blog about exercise and be far from controversial but still, perhaps garner your attention.
Yet that is not what you might have had in mind if you had begun to read a blog entitled “On Exercise.” Instead, admittedly I have succumbed to the temptation to give it a catchier title, and thus I hope not to disappoint, for I do want to speak about the true importance of exercise. Indeed, it is vital to exercise and I think to do so somewhat vigorously, if your body will allow you to. Doctors say so, and so do many well-written and well-researched websites. But I will speak here chiefly from personal experience, not scientifically or with a view to convincing you to subscribe to some new diet and exercise program. Rather, let me just say that I have had basically three phases in my life, and I have done much better physically and emotionally in two of them than I did in the one that was devoid of exercise.
In that lazy phase, in the years I was in graduate school and just out of it, I did not find time to exercise regularly, doing so intermittently at best. And thus I found myself in those years less healthy, often more irritable (some of which admittedly could have been caused by being in graduate school), and generally just less happy than when I took it upon myself to exercise vigorously and regularly. In my youth I had been quite athletic, and after the aforementioned hiatus I became athletic again. When I reintroduced regular exercise into my life, my health improved. My heart rate decreased markedly. My blood pressure dropped. By the grace of God (and thanks to exercise), I don’t have to take any medications even though I am in my 50s.
And, on the topic of exercise, you might wonder what exactly that “World’s Best Exercise Program” is. Let me say first that one size does not fit all, and really all I propose to do here is tell you what I do, not what is the “world’s best” program is which, truth be told, I do not do naked (of course):
I take a good morning walk (about a mile) with my wife and our over-sized dog. Then, I bike to my office (about 6 miles) where I mainly write. At some point during the day, I either swing a Kettlebell (about once a week for about 30 minutes, following along with a kind of kitsch work out video) or I go for pretty swift jog (about three times a week); I also lift weights (about three times a week). And I swim continually for an hour and 15 minutes about once a week. Once in a while I combine these for say a short swim and a short run, but mostly I do them on separate days. Except for the Kettlebell (shorter) or swimming (longer), I do them for about fifty minutes or so each day. And then I bike six miles home.
You certainly don’t have to do what I do; I’m just letting you know what I do, and, more importantly, recommending exercise in general.
No, you don’t have to exercise naked to make exercise interesting. It would be difficult and illegal to bike naked; that much is certain. I suppose you could exercise naked, if you wanted to, in the privacy of your own home. But honestly, that might be weird and I just put naked in this blog to get you to read it, for after all, “On Exercise” would have been a pretty boring title, one that most certainly needed a little dressing up.