There’s a line in the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam that, in flowery language says, it would be great if we could remake the world nearer to our heart’s desire. I think it’s a fair objective, particularly as Nature’s design often diverges from my ideal.
If I ruled the world, lying on a couch with a stack of books and a box of chocolates near at hand would be the highest form of exercise. Crème puffs would be defined as a vegetable and doctors would prescribe hot fudge sundaes as a heart tonic. If I ruled the world, talking with friends over lattes in a café would be aerobic exercise and reclining for hours on a tropical beach would promote skin health.
In sum, I don’t understand why Nature chooses to make broccoli good for me but not pecan pie.
When it comes to exercise, one of my biggest hurdles is that I hate to sweat. I abhor having my hair stick to my forehead while puddles form under my arm pits. My idea of an aerobic exercise is to let the wind blow through my hair.
Lately, science seems to conspire with Nature to make life more difficult. No longer is moderate excise as good for me as once thought. Instead, it must be of a certain intensity. Research has revealed that we benefit most from exercise when we — I hate to say it — sweat. (“Health & Science,” The Week, 4/24/25 pg. 19.) A 6 year study of men and women over the age of 45 found that “those who regularly broke a sweat with activities such as jogging or playing competitive tennis had a mortality rate 13 percent lower than those who stuck to more gentle exercise.” (Ibid pg. 19.) Interval training — a mix of short bursts of energy combined easier moves – provides maximum value. No, wolfing down an éclair, no matter how fast, doesn’t count.