When people do something for their fitness, it’s typically for a very distinct aim: losing weight, getting into (a certain) better shape, running a marathon, bench-pressing a certain weight.
As in the case of weight, goals can be helpful, and observations of progress (trends) even more so. However, a singular focus on single aspects does not make for great fitness and health.
Many are the runners who forget to develop their upper bodies and their strength, many the bodybuilders who look strong, but can hardly move anymore, let alone run – and many both the overweight and those of normal weight who are lacking in the skills for the extraordinary everyday.
For both the “what” and the “why,” these are just the things to focus on, though: the skills of everyday movement – sprinting a short distance, walking for a long time, balancing along a line, carrying bags (or a child, or one’s wife, or someone injured), pulling oneself up a wall,…
These are things that even children, left to their own devices, would typically be doing, things that one doesn’t need special equipment for, things that strengthen not just one muscle group or the other but the whole body in its range of strength, speed, endurance, and motion – and they are things that it has always been necessary to be able to perform.
Yes, modern life is different.
With a car right out the door, the distance to the next supermarket or the workplace too far to walk, convenience food all around and workplaces (and places of learning) organized so as to work while seated, life-hacking and the latest fitness fashions promising the fastest results with the most minimal of effective doses, it is easy to forget and be kept from movement skills that have always been a part of daily life – until recently.
So, modern life is deadly.
Average life expectancies have still been increasing, but the burden of disease has also been rising.
Yes, people live longer – but they hardly live for the longest of this additional time. They exist, stuffing themselves and moving only from sitting in the car to sitting at work to sitting in front of the TV, eating.
Obesity is fast becoming the normal state among younger generations, and comfortable though it may appear – as long as you never have to move much – when it’s extreme or isn’t just a slight overweight going together with enough fitness, it limits your chances of living well.
Metabolic syndrome, of which obesity is a symptom, also affects people of normal weight and threatens “diseases of civilization” even for them… but here, we’ll be getting into the issue of food and eating, more than into movement and fitness skills.
All it takes is your own body, a cue from children’s playful attitude towards movement, and cues you set yourself up to get to doing something, from working more while standing, to running up the stairs, to going out for a sports activity with a friend… and rather than live comfortably and get worse, you can get to better. Not just to having less weight or sporting a better-looking physique, either, but to being in better health and capable of more.
Isn’t that a worthy goal, and a great means, to pursue? Sure, it can be hard – but it’s fun and gets easier literally with every step, moving away from modern life’s real danger.