Is all exercise created equal?

This post on NeverSayDiet has me wondering. What makes one kind of exercise better than another? Is it good enough to recommend exercise as a general or should we be judging people for what they choose to do?

In particular, this comment got me het up:

It does seem strange when normal kids start going to the gym. Although I guess in that sense, its strange that ANYONE goes to the gym, considering the possibilities of exercise just from lifestyle activities… but sad that this mentality is weighing on our kids, too.

What makes the gym suddenly so bad that kids shouldn’t be going? I didn’t realise that you had to be a certain age or mentality to go to the gym to exercise! Silly me always thought that it was GOOD for us to exercise and it didn’t matter how or where. Nowhere have I read that certain types of exercise are good for “normal” kids/adults and other types are good for the rest (abnormal?).

I joined a gym when I was 11. A new gym opened up near my place and the whole family signed up. I used to get my mother to drop me off and pick me up about 2 hours later – I’d use the treadmill, the weights circuit and the pool to swim laps. I sometimes met up with a friend and we’d make an afternoon of it. I always thought I was normal and it was good that I went to the gym – I’m not a team sport person so how else was I supposed to get fit and be active?

I love going to the gym now. I do get activity in my day-to-day life – I walk to the bus and from the bus on my way to work, I walk to the grocery store and carry my bags home. I take the stairs whenever possible. But my exercise? Comes from the gym. The treadmill, the elliptical, the bike, the weights. All. At. The. Gym.

I’m just wondering where the judgement comes from – are outdoor joggers better than treadmill trainers? Is it a superiority complex or is exercise not created equal?

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8 thoughts on “Is all exercise created equal?

  1. Oooh, this is a good one. I think there is a certain stigma attached to different forms of exercise. Runners think walkers are wimps, people who get their exercise outside think gymrats are crazy, gymrats think at home dvd’s are the devil…of course I’m generalizing here, but you get the idea. And then there are those of us (me) who are in awe of anyone who actually exercises on a regular basis!

    This would make an excellent guest post over at Cranky Fitness – you should submit it!!

    =)

    • Thanks Jill!

      I’m with you on the awe of anyone who exercises on a regular basis! I push myself to get to the gym and I’d hate to suddenly think that my gym going is wrong.

      I agree 100% on the stigma and slight superiority of various types of exercisers – isn’t it silly really? Exercise is exercise – we all need it and it shouldn’t matter how we do it!

      • It is silly!! And I don’t care what anyone says, going to the gym is not wrong. Debby left a comment on my blog and said she has “gym envy” – she wants to belong to a gym with all sorts of shiny equipment!! I thought that was funny. πŸ™‚

  2. Every once in a while, I do think how odd it is that I make a point to exercise — I appoint a time and choose an activity and sometimes travel to a particular place or room in order to conduct that activity. And that activity has only one purpose: to make me burn calories and tone my muscles. Back in olden days, no one set aside time in their days in order to get exercise — their day-to-day living called for some hard-assed WORK. Working to survive and working to make a civilized life burned plenty o’ calories. πŸ™‚

    But then again, I recognize that I don’t have much choice. I don’t have to do all the laundry by hand or churn my own butter or till up the garden with a shovel or chase a chicken around the yard before killing it and plucking it for dinner or any of the other chores and tasks that burned calories. Life has evolved and what I do for “work” is mainly sit at a desk. And in order to keep a healthy body, I have to specifically work my body just for the sake of working my body — working out is no longer a side effect of living. Working out has become it’s own activity.

    And every once in a while, it strikes me as weird. πŸ™‚

  3. Yes, all excercise is created equal. The most important thing is doing what you like so that you actually keep doing it, wether that is going to the gym, or jogging in the park or just walking.

    I think the stigma about the gym applies specifically to children. Most kids just run around with their mates and have fun, getting their excercise through play rather than controlled excercise. At least that’s how it used to be (even in my childhood I guess) and I think it shocks people to think about how inactive kids are these days. Plus I guess it creates the message that excercise is something that needs to be done and the children might not think it fun, as opposed to seeing excercise as part of play which would make it a lifelong habit as opposed to a chore. That’s my two cents!

    • Thanks for commenting!

      I think the gym can be fun for kids (esp if they’re with friends or doing a class etc). Sometimes I think a lot of the judgment comes from the ADULT not always enjoying the gym and therefore seeing it as not fun for kids. Kids can make fun out of the weirdest things and have fewer hangups sometimes.

  4. I dont think that it is “wrong” perse for children to go to the gym, but it could lead one to wonder what type of childhood they are having. Sure if they are going to the gym with their friends that is one thing, but if they are there working out at 10 years old, and they are of average weight, it seems like they are missing out on being a kid. Kids should be out running around causing trouble, playing soccer and football and baseball etc, not doing the stairdevil (I swear it’s evil.) That’s the best part of being a kid, being outdoors and using your imagination. Then again, I guess that isnt what a good portion of kids do anymore. I see my BF son and worry, that kid would play video games 24 hours a day if we let him (and he does at his Mom’s house), but we limit him to 60 minutes a day and drag his bootie out of the house to do things the rest of the time!

    My gym doesnt allow anyone under the age of 16 in the gym, and if you are under 18 you have to be accompanied by an adult (surely for insurance purposes.) There are other gyms though that have group classes specifically for children. I suppose as with everything else, it’s all in the context!

    Loving your blog by the way!

    Scale Warfare

  5. I think Jill hit it right one. It seems there is a sub-culture of judgmental exercisers. Me? I am just happy to see people out there moving! πŸ™‚

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