When I was with all my siblings and their families for our family week in the Adirondacks, I walked miles every morning with my sister in laws, Heidi and Nicole. Walking is better than running because you can really talk.
We talked about the contagion theory of exercise. I loved this article from the New York Times magazine a year ago…
Good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.
So, because I am altruistic (and not at all vain. No, not me), I am walking, running, swimming, doing Yoga and Pilates, for my friends, family, my wider circle. I am not working out for myself. I am doing it for all of you.
Okay, I feel good when I work out too. I’ll admit it — I do it for my own sanity. Last night for some reason, I was in a bit of a funk. I was missing my kids. I wanted to be where they were, but the city is a drag for kids in the summer. After work, I went to the JCC to swim. I told myself, You only have to do eight laps. I have no idea why I always tell myself, Do eight laps. In any size pool, that’s my goal — eight. It’s manageable. But I did much more than eight. I walked in the pool too, punching the water in front of me, like a crazy aqua aerobics lady. I did 20 sit ups on the side of the pool.
I felt much better.
Exercise is better than anti-depressants. But it takes longer and you have to change clothes when you do it.