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More than Exercise

Filed Under: Men's Health at 1:17 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Soccer GoalieIn Iran, men practice Zurkhaneh, an ancient Persian sporting ritual that combines aerobics and bodybuilding as well as fitness and spirituality. As they juggle heavy clubs, do push-ups and whirl feverishly, images of religious leaders, mythological heroes and past athletes surround them; drumming and ancient poetry fills the air. They connect with God, making their workout meaningful. 

In the United States, couples are going to the gym and stepping into the boxing ring, together. As they spar, they are able to unleash pent-up aggression, build respect and find trust. They use their gloves to release anger and impress, without ever intentionally injuring their partner. They connect with each other, making their workout meaningful. 

In both of these practices, the exercise is more than exercise. The participants are using their workouts to further their relationships, be it with God or each other. As a result, going to the gym is less of a chore and more of a desire, and that’s how it should be for everyone. The thoughts of future workouts should elicit positive anticipation rather than dread.   In order to accomplish that, you have to find something that doesn’t necessarily connect you with God or your spouse but that does make you happy. Doing so will improve your mental and physical feelings, post-workout. And, the exercise doesn’t have to be anything extra-special. A game of basketball or soccer with friends can do the trick.  In fact, researchers found that a group of amateur soccer players finished a one-hour game considerably less exhausted than a group of one-hour joggers, even though they had experienced the more taxing workout. 

So if the treadmill is getting you down, making you long for lethargy rather than activity, ditch it. Don’t jog. Find the activity that’s right for you. It may be boxing, Zurkhaneh, soccer, yoga, football or dancing. Whatever it is, you’ll be happy while you’re doing it. You’ll be more likely to continue doing it, and you’ll have found that exercise can be more than exercise. It can be fun.

18 Responses to “More than Exercise”

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