Breaking News – Exercise is Good for You!

Opinion CategoryWow. Wow. Wow. I’m a little bit speechless after reading Domhnall Macauley’s article, Olympic Games will bring health gains to the non-sporting public, says Princess Anne. To make a short article even shorter, let me summarize:

* Exercise is good for you.
* Doctor claims that obesity may partially be a reflection of the operations of our current society.
* Exercise can help “cure” depression.
* Enjoying a particular exercise makes it more likely that you will stick with the exercise.

Now I’m not undermining the importance of any of the above statements mentioned by various professionals at a British Medical Association exercise and health conference. It’s just that… well, come on, isn’t this all old news?

Buckingham PalaceIn 2012 the Olympic Games will be held in London and Princess Anne sees this event as

… a great opportunity to promote physical activity and to create a culture of activity among young people.

I don’t mean to rain on your parade Princess Anne but do you really think that the Olympics will have that big of an impact?

After all, you’d have to be absolutely out-of-touch with reality not to know some “basics” of exercise, like the ones listed above. I don’t believe that too many people doubt the necessity of this activity; I just think they don’t want to do it. Now, I speak from where I’ve been. You see, after many years as an athlete and just all-around active person, I’ve been somewhat idle for the last decade, give or take a few years. Now I do chase a toddler, carry him around all day, and go for a few daily strolls around the neighborhood, all which I feel give me some justification in not engaging in more formal activities. (After all, he’s 22 lbs… that’s like carrying around a medicine ball at least!)

I know that engaging in exercise is important, not just for my health but as a positive example for my son. But still, as much as I love watching a good tennis match or basketball game, I don’t break out the shorts and tug my hair into a ponytail so I can get out there and sweat it up. So I’m not quite sure that the Olympics, an event that has surely lost some of it’s magical connotations, is going to rouse the sedentary to do… well, anything at all actually.

If we want to ensure a healthier society, I think that the best approach is something that Ken Fox, a professor at Bristol University, mentioned. He noted that our society has simply changed; it is ridiculously easy for someone to go all day without even doing a few minutes of brisk activity. We drive to work. We sit at a desk. We eat fast food for lunch. We drive home. We sit in front of the television. We drive to a friend’s house for dinner. We drive home. We sleep. We are creatures of habit and we are in the habit of being static.

We are in a collective mindset of doing and going without having to exert physical energy to do so. A perfect illustration? The other evening my husband played basketball with a few guys in the neighborhood. After the game he started to walk the 3 blocks to our house. The other guys who all lived within a few blocks of the course as well wanted to know if he needed a ride. I guess they were confused about why he would walk home when it would be easier to drive.


Macauley, D. (2008). Olympic Games will bring health gains to the non-sporting public, says Princess Anne. BMJ, 336(7658), 1399-1399. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a411

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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