I rode my bicycle more than 70 miles last week with the Minneapolis Team in Training team. I’m training with them for my 100 Mile bike ride at Lake Tahoe on June 1 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to honor my dad. (Please click on the link to the right to donate.) Anyway, 70 miles seemed like a major physical ordeal to me and my body. It dawned on me that people ride hundreds of miles a week. Some of them are older too. Besides doing these kinds of things for charity, to get physically healthy, or for a sense of accomplishment though, working out in general doesn’t make much sense.
All that exertion doesn’t do much for society. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Nobody gets fed, no power gets generated; we just use up (now expensive) food calories to move ourselves or machines around and the energy exertion results in meaningless motion. What if all the machines in a gym were hooked up to a generator to reduce emissions from our power plants? Or what if we had organized volunteer days where we transported bags of grain or building supplies for volunteer organizations and built up our fitness at the same time? Then our work-outs would be doing work.
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I’m just as guilty as anybody. I play sports, bicycle, and work out to stay (somewhat) fit, and it’s all entertainment and agony. It doesn’t work that great. Of course this is mostly my fault, I would say working out doesn’t work out for most other people as well. That’s because it’s boring and often mindless. Perhaps we would all be more motivated if we worked out for the benefit of society or the environment.
We basically put ourselves through a work-out’s extreme stress to look good and so that we can eat more unhealthy, scrumptious foods. We want to look good so that we can find an attractive mate who brings us pleasure. So when we work out, we are partaking in hedonism. There are physical benefits such as feeling good, and stress relief, but those would be trumped if we worked out to do work.