Why exercise? Is it to look good? Lose weight? A social thing?
Here are 3 primary reasons that I came up with for why I exercise:
(1) Maximize Health: Do the things that keep me healthy for the long haul and increase resilience (the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness). For example, endurance exercise (running, cycling, swimming > 20 minutes at moderate effort) improves cardiovascular health (strengthens heart, lowers blood pressure, lowers body fat, etc.). Strength training retains lean muscle mass as I get older. Exercise is good for mental health, too. But, there is also a need for balance. For example, too much endurance exercise can cause problems (heart atrial fibrillation, arterial hardening) later in life.
(2) Maximize Future Options: I don’t want to be limited by what I can’t do especially as I get older. I’m going to water ski when I’m 80. If I feel the need to run another marathon or hike the Pacific Crest Trail, I can do that. This ties in with maximizing health by choosing exercise that keeps me active and mobile for the rest of my life.
(3) Maximize Survivability: When things go wrong, I want to be able to survive them and be able to help others survive. Can I run away from danger or swim to shore if I fall overboard off a boat? I train in martial arts for both the physical and mental health aspects as well as to develop the skills to be able to stop violence.
Why do you exercise?