Why in Deed

Anyone who makes exercise a regular part of his or her routine has to acknowledge Jerry Seinfeld’s point about the circular logic of the gym:

“The only reason that you’re getting in shape is so you can get through the workout. So we’re working out, so that we’ll be in shape, for when we have to do our exercises.”

I’ll pile on even a bit more, questioning exercise’s supposed ability to make you “feel better.” The day after I train legs, an ordinary flight of stairs looks to me more like a mountain. Depending upon what’s happening with my low back, tying my shoes can be a real struggle. And I’m hard pressed to see the advantage of using up your energy for the day prior to 7 a.m.

So truly, why bother?

Well, upon further reflection, I’ve compiled a list of times when I’ve found the effort to stay fit – and a thick layer of muscle – to actually come in handy:

10. Getting off the subway: You’re sitting in the center of the metro car as the train pulls into your station; you count about 30 people – plus assorted luggage, instrument cases and bicycles – standing between you and the door, which will remain open for only a matter of seconds.

9. Protecting your internal organs: When you’re resting on your bed, and your kids start to use your torso as a trampoline, you can giggle right along with them.

8. Getting on the subway: You want to board an already packed subway train; as the door opens, you apply the gentle but firm encouragement of your forearm into the middle backs of the folks in front of you.

7. Eating contest: Due to your continual craving for food, you can impress friends and relatives with your ability to consume large quantities in a short period of time. (Downside: constant hunger can also get expensive.)

6. Trying to catch an early flight: At the bus stop, you figure out the hard way that bus service to the metro doesn’t start for another hour; it’s no problem for you to walk instead, making the one mile trek up to the train station while dragging along your bulging suitcase.

5. Feats of strength: When your massive picture tube television finally dies, you can haul it out to the curb solo, without needing to call in a favor from friends or neighbors.

4. Saving time: It only takes one trip to carry all the grocery bags in your car up the stairs and into the kitchen.

3. Crash recovery: When you lace up ice skates for the first time in 20 years, you can survive the inevitable wipeout without serious trauma.

2. Discipline: When you inform your uncooperative children they have the opportunity to complete a task (i.e., getting dressed, going upstairs) “the easy way or the hard way,” you can, when necessary, make good on the threat.

1. Shoveling snow: When the forecast calls for snow, you don’t need to worry about the aftermath causing heart trouble or other injury. In fact, if snow has made the roads impassable, the shoveling can substitute for your trip to the gym.

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