There is a time and a place for everything. Eating happens at a table 3 times a day. Studying happens in a library after class. Exercise happens in a gym after work. Work happens at a desk, not before 9, and not after 5. Yelling and screaming only happens outside at sporting events or concerts (use your indoor voice, your parents always said).
People like organizing information into charts and graphs and tables. We organize our stuff into shelves and cubbies. Every tool has a hanger in the garage, every article of clothing has a drawer or a hanger. We do everything according to the schedule.
Many of you might be laughing at this point. Some of you have piles of clothes strewn across your floors. Most of you probably eat your meals on the run. Your garage shop is in shambles. You’re always late to work. You can never find time to work out. While many of us feel like we’re supposed to be more organized, the fact remains that most of us just don’t live that way. And really, there are many things in life that just don’t need to be organized. One of those things, believe it or not, is your workout.
Some things in life still need a time and a place. I really suggest you continue to use a designated bathroom instead of defacing a building wall (though I guess sometimes you need to do what you need to do). But the only reason humans have made it this far is our tremendous capacity for adaptability. Sometimes our train is late. Sometimes your usual road to work is closed. Sometimes your usual lunch place is too crowded. Sometimes you’re face to face with a grizzly bear. Do you simply cease to exist because the routine is broken, or do you find a new path, a new way to solve a problem?
Our bodies are designed to adapt. They’re not meant to do the exact same thing every single day. When we do, we end up with disease and depression. Challenges excite us, they give us a rush. No athlete got better by doing the same workout every single day. Nobody got healthier by sitting in a chair all day. Our ancestors were healthier because they had random bursts of activity throughout the day. Sometimes they had to outrun that bear. Sometimes they had to hunt when food appeared. Sometimes they had to wash clothes by hand. Watch some kids on a playground– do they do the monkey bars 3 times and move to the next piece of equipment, or are they constantly jumping from one piece to another, challenging themselves in new ways?
Our working definition of health today is our body’s ability to respond and adapt to a given challenge, whether it be a bear, or a sudden onset of stress, or a spike in blood pressure. We get better health through frequent, repeated exposure to a given stimulus (do it often) and gradual progression (if you want to be faster than that bear, make sure you can race that turtle first [or at least be faster than the person next to you]). If you always run on that treadmill after work, how are you going to escape that bear running around trees early in the morning? Sometimes it’s going to take getting up from your desk and doing a few squats at 4-5 random times a day. Sometimes its going to mean randomly picking up the pace or doing intermittent sprints. Sometimes it means doing some bodyweight exercises instead of an hour on the treadmill.
The point is you don’t get healthy just by going to the gym. Make activity a frequent part of your day. Get up and do something, anything! There is no single time or place or machine. When you think about exercise, do it right then and there. Your body will thank you.