Op-Ed: The Pressure to Exercise SO Much Might be Unnecessary

Modern-day gym culture seems to have distorted what is actually important about getting your body moving. Pressure to include the gym into your routine every day, for an hour or more can be incredibly overwhelming with everything else in your life. “The grind” may be important for some, professional athletes and bodybuilders, but if you aren’t getting joy out of the gym at 6 am, why are you really there?

Exercise is personal, and people’s reasoning for going to the gym, playing sports, or even doing recreational activities that work up a sweat, is different for everyone. However, when we discuss exercising in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and longevity, the excess may not be the answer everyone is looking for. Having specific goals such as weight loss or muscle gain is a different topic. If achieving those things is going to make a person happier in the long run or even during the process, going hard with a gym routine may be important. 

On the other hand, prioritizing a moderate level of exercise that feels easy and enjoyable may be a better route for some to consider. Studies reached a broad consensus in 2008 on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, concluding that around 150 minutes per week is an ideal timeline. Ideally, this is 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise five times a week. However, a study in 2017 found that those who condensed their workouts to just a long one twice a week were less likely to die than those who didn’t exercise at all.

What’s important in my opinion about this is that it should always be a goal, not a requirement. If exercise is meant to make you feel good, it shouldn’t take over your life. Finding a balance is always key, whether it be diet or activity. Likewise running or lifting weights are not your only options for exercise. if you’re like me and find both of these activities to be unbearable, find ways to exercise that you actually have fun with. Going for walks, swimming, riding a bike, or joining a recreational sports league are all great alternatives. The goal should be to sweat a little and not spend all day dreading that part of it, it doesn’t matter how you choose to do it.  

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