Work vs. Exercise in the New Years

The earring and sweater ads in my local paper were just replaced with ads for exercise equipment.  "Lose weight" continues to top the most popular resolutions charts, with "exercise regularly", "exercise more", "lose 10 pounds" and "lose 30 pounds" making up 5 of the top 6 New Year's Resolutions.  And your neighborhood department store has just the piece of oversized exercise equipment to help you along your way.  You're one credit card purchase away from a lifetime of fitness on your stationary bike, home gym or elliptical trainer.

Funny thing though.  Looking over my ancestors' pictures, there aren't any fatties.  Everyone is reasonably proportioned and I couldn't spot a single piece of exercise equipment in any home photos.

The idea of scheduling time to "exercise" is a rather new one.  Imagine how your great-grandparents would have guffawed at the very idea!  Building fences, sweeping floors, milking cows and walking to and from wherever they needed to go was exercise aplenty.  Instead, you and I have taken the exercise out of work.

Do you sweep or vacuum?  Do you rake or use a leaf blower?  Do you hang your clothes on a line or throw them in the dryer?  Do you chop wood or turn up the thermostat?  Do you drive to the store and park as close to the entrance as possible?  Do you do your own home repairs or hire someone else?

If we take all the physical work away from normal living, we're left with the recumbent exercise bike in front of the TV.  What if we unplugged just a few of the following tasks and did them ourselves?
  1. Walk any distance that's a mile (or half-mile) away.
  2. Ride a bicycle any distance up to 5 miles away
  3. Use a push mower instead of a power mower 
  4. Rake leaves the old-fashioned way
  5. Till the garden with a shovel and hand tools
  6. Sweep floors, steps, walkways with a broom
  7. Do your own home repairs and improvements when you can
  8. Go fix a fence somewhere
  9. Shop in town instead of the mall (on foot)
  10. Leave the cart and carry your own purchases around the store
  11. Play an instrument instead of an iPod (sometimes)
  12. Get up and go talk to someone instead of texting, emailing or phoning
  13. Use public transportation (more walking getting from point to point)
  14. Dance when the spirit moves you
  15. Build something with hammer and nails
  16. Wash dishes by hand
  17. Plant seeds and bulbs
  18. Use a clothesline for laundry
  19. Cook and avoid eating out too frequently
Let's put the physical back into work to get our exercise.  And let's take the stress out of New Year's Resolutions.  If only 12% of Resolutions are fully achieved, maybe 12 months is too long?  Make a Resolution every time there's a New Year.  Mark your calendar for Resolution completion and renewal each of these dates in 2011:

January 1st:  European/American New Year
February 3rd:  Chinese New Year (Year of the Rabbit--perfect!)
March 21st:  Persian New Year
September 28th:  Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah)

My first New Year's Resolution only needs to last 33 days.  I know I can do it!  Good luck building more actual work into your life (and less cumbersome equipment).