I recently read this new book by Lionel Shriver who you might remember for “We need to talk about, Kevin”, one of my best reads in a long time.  And it set me thinking about the “why?” of exercise.

In the book the wife character is now 60 and has exercised her whole life, it’s been her thing!  Solo, long before it became fashionable, she did it all and strong.  Now her knees are troubling her, and she is in denial about the op she is facing.  Her husband has never broken a sweat, but suddenly finds himself retrenched…and decides to run a marathon!  He is full of bluster about his new hobby and she is resentful, making for acerbic marital drama.  To cut a long story short, he completes the marathon, coming stone last and nearly dies…and just as his wife thinks that their lives and relationship can go back to normal, he announces that he wants to do an Iron Man!  And the novel continues from there which I won’t go into because I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it.

The novel looks at this modern trend of “exercise lifestyle” and how fanatical amateurs have become about their training, body measurements, times, V02 max, supplements, equipment, outfits etc etc.  And to what end? 

Why do we exercise?  I fully understand the correlation between exercise and health, but all you are required to do for health benefit is mild regular exercise of about 40 min at a time.  Anything over that doesn’t add to your health, so why?

It made me look at what I do and which boxes my activities tick!  Here are some:  Aquarobics (laughter, music, dance, sea), Hiking (connection, togetherness, nature), Yoga (calm, breath), HIIT (strength, coordination, balance). 

And most of all, the book made me realise that I don’t need to run a marathon! (Again.)