Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Dangers of Exercise

A lot of people seem to think that exercise is good for you. Well, I'm here to set the record straight. Besides making you tired, sweaty and smelly, exercise is downright dangerous. The desire to exercise and the reason behind it varies depending upon who you ask. I am going to focus on the most common reason - to be healthy. I am curious where the line is drawn between being healthy and not being injured or killed though. It may sound like a stretch, but hear me out. Remember, the longer I talk about it - the less time I have to spend exercising.

I am going to start out with the poster child of exercise as an example. One of my old Marine Corps buddies is an exercising guru. I honestly don't know how much of his daily workouts are due to a desire to be healthy versus just liking to be outside and active. Before you get the idea that this buddy of mine is your typical "go out for a jog" kind of guy, let me set the record straight. This guy is nuts. He's the kind of guy who will run a marathon to warm up for an Iron Man competition.

The point I'm getting at is even he gets hurt. This seemingly invisible machine in a man's body gets hurt while working out. He's probably going to be mad at me for saying this because this year has been good to him in the "not getting hurt" department and I hope I didn't jinx him. It did get me thinking about how dangerous exercise really is. So, after this long winded introduction, here's the proof you need if you're looking for a reason to skip tomorrow morning's workout.

Running is Hazardous
My wife goes running most mornings as a way to start her day. She tries to convince me that it makes her feel better and actually gives her more energy to start her day, but she's not fooling anyone. I know she goes running because I snore really loud and she can't sleep anyway. Well, she got injured while running a few months back.

It was a calm and peaceful morning. I'm sure the bird's were chirping and the sun was just getting ready to pop on the horizon too. Unfortunately, it was still too dark to see the two inch trip hazard in the sidewalk caused by the years of freeze and thaw that throws the sidewalk off level. As you have probably guessed, she caught that trip hazard and  face planted on the sidewalk. On the bright side, it was too dark for anyone to see her perfectly choreographed sidewalk-kissing maneuver. On the darker side, I refused to go out in public with her for a week because it looked like somebody had been smacking her around pretty bad - and I didn't want anyone to think it was me.

Walking is Worse
If you think running sounds hazardous, you'll be surprised to hear that walking is even worse for your health....and I even have facts to back it up. According to the CDC, there were 76,000 injuries in the US sustained from pedestrian accidents in 2012. Even worse, there were 4,743 deaths. I realize the report is three years old, but I doubt it's changed all that much since then. Something as simple as going out for a walk is likely to get you injured by a passing motorist....if not killed.

Think about it. A pedestrian is injured every 7 minutes...and killed every 2 hours. If that's not enough reason to avoid going out for a walk - I don't know what is. At the very least, it's good reason to keep your morning workout under seven minutes in length. At least you'll be safe then.

Biking and Bears
You're probably wondering what the photo attached to this post has to do with working out. Well, bears are the most dangerous part of exercising. You never know when a bear is going to jump out and attack you. Just look at the photo above - the bear is clearly just hiding in wait for some unsuspecting workout nut to come along. Since you probably think I'm a little out in left field with this one, I'll give you an example.

My father-in-law is a feeble old man in his 70's. By "feeble" I mean he only puts about 75 miles a week on his bike...in addition to his workouts at Vic Tanny. (By "man" I mean it in every sense of the word.) Anyway, here's where the bear comes into play.... My wife's side of the family has been going up to a resort near Eagle River, WI, every year for nearly 40 years. Part of the fun of being up there for dad is that he has many miles of piney woods to ride his bike. (A nice change of pace from city "trails.") We never thought much about him being out for a few hours on a ride, but this one particular day he was gone for the better part of the day. About the time we started to get concerned, he rolled into camp.

It turns out he got cornered in a dead end cul-de-sac having passed between some bear cubs and their mama. Apparently, man or not, cruising back between a mama bear and her cubs didn't seem all that appealing. (Did I mention that he's a smart man too?) For any of you daring folks out there, here's a few more facts for you... According to an extremely reliable Google search, a competent rider on a racing bike can ride about 25 mph for "brief" periods of time...on flat ground. According to the North American Bear Center, a black bear can run 30 mph on flat ground (or uphill for that matter).

I don't know about you, but I don't like those odds. I definitely don't blame dad for chilling out until mama bear and her cubs skedaddled. (For the record: Kudos to my wife for telling me how to spell "skedaddled" properly - off the top of her head - on the first try.) I'm thinking maybe there is something to the whole "bear hiding in wait" thing. They must have something against exercise too??

I'm going to leave it at that for now. For the record, I do actually understand the benefits of exercise. Sometimes it's just good to have a few excuses...I mean, reasons not to get out of bed to exercise some mornings. I felt this post was my own little public service announcement to help anyone looking for a reason to relax in the morning rather than exercise. If you want, you can sleep in tomorrow because reading this entire post was a workout in itself. Until next time....