“Happiness lies first of all in health.”–George William Curtis
I used to absolutely, completely, totally hate physical education classes in school. The loathing solidified after grade school recess became organized into game playing. Dodge ball is a nightmare sport for a kid who wears glasses. Because I was a scrawny, bookish boy, I was almost always the last kid picked for a team during softball or soccer in school. I would have been less disgusted if the teacher had taken the effort to choose the team members. I would have been happier if I could have spent the recess period in the library instead of enduring the humiliation of recess.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”–John F. Kennedy
Junior and Senior High school phys. ed. or P.E. were even worse. Some of those classes were taught by self-professed jocks or coaches. Most of them only seemed to have patience and caring for the guys who already were good at sports. Those of us who needed to learn to enjoy exercise for its own sake continued to be neglected, or worse. To make things even more unpleasant, we had to disrobe and shower in public. There was no privacy.
This was the time when the alpha males and their throngs of wannabes tormented those of us who had no desire to be in P.E. in the first place. I don’t know if the situation remains the same in schools or not. I suspect it’s just as miserable, if not worse. The overemphasis on sports in schools these days makes me glad I’m not a schoolboy anymore.
“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very fast.”–Thomas Jefferson
Even though I hated P.E., something inside me still yearned for some sort of activity. I got a good hint of it in college where the students still were required to attend a Phys. Ed class during our freshman and sophomore years. The emphasis was more on leisure activities like dance, golf and tennis. There were still times when we were required to play team sports like football and baseball. I liked bowling the best. Mandatory wrestling was an ordeal. I was ordinarily paired off with a heavier guy, usually my opponent had B.O. Sometimes he was a jock.
After leaving school behind, I finally was able to experiment with ways that I could find exercise in the type and amount that I personally could enjoy. I liked to play Frisbee with my room mates. I continued to enjoy my boyhood love of bicycling. Even though I had taken on the filthy habit of tobacco smoking, I began entertaining thoughts of running. I subscribed to “Running” magazine. I made sure I had high-tech pairs of cross training and track shoes.
“Regularity in the hours of rising and retiring, perseverance in exercise, adaptation of dress to the variations of climate, simple and nutritious aliment, and temperance in all things are necessary branches of the regimen of health.”–Lord Chesterfield
Fun runs became the vogue and I wanted to take part. I managed to get some blue ribbons and even a small trophy for my efforts. It was a real boost to be raising money for whatever charity happened to be sponsoring the events. I remember crossing the finish line neck and neck with the sports director of the radio station. He was in excellent health.
Eventually I befriended more active people and was included in their social circles more often. Shortly thereafter, I joined the YMCA. The place, the people and the workouts became addictive. If I couldn’t make it to the gym, I felt out of sorts and crabby. It got to the point to where I actually looked forward to the gym. I couldn’t believe that I was actually paying money and spending leisure time enjoying what I had inititially loathed. Best of all, I stopped smoking cigarettes!
Attending “P.E.” is something I not only want to do, it’s a part of my life that I highly treasure. Perhaps that is so, because I do it on my terms. I set my own limits and my own goals. I’m accountable to myself.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way”.