On the Hamster Wheel

One of the frequent refrains in the discussion of Angry Gray Rainbow’s “I Hate Exercise” post was the dislike of exercise bikes, treadmills, and other “hamster-wheel exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercising”.   I grinned when I saw it, because yes, I’d rather walk to someplace than walk in place or around the block.

But, then, there’s today.  Today my leg is hurting.  Uneven strides and uneven walking surfaces are painful…and the treadmill offers me a level walking surface and an enforced uniform speed.  Trying to correct my slight limp as I walked over to the office’s mini-gym I wasn’t sure even that would help, but I did 20 minutes on the treadmill with no limping and no pain.  I finished with a variety of stretches.

So…yeah.  Boring, yes.  Purposeless…depends on what your purpose IS.

That said, treadmill distractions can be nice.  Today’s treadmill distraction:  Barefoot Contessa: Snapper with mustard and creme fraichebroccoli with parmesan, basil, and lemonwhole fingerling potatoes.

19 thoughts on “On the Hamster Wheel

  1. I checked out “I Hate Exercise” which I had never read and what follows is that I am copying what I posted there (since 400lbs is one of my very favorite things to read):
    I only like swimming but I define that as slow movement through the water which I choose to do about half an hour. Dancing, prancing, leaping, and even some actual swimming. Almost every day. I am nearly 400 lbs. and use a rollater (the wheeled walker with a seat and a basket). I have lymphedema on both legs and arthritis so have lots of pain but the so called swimming makes me feel good in ways medication for pain does not. The fat lady in a swim suit is a real issue: I do not like toddlers and kids exclaiming, “look mommie–she’s SO FAT!” but I don’t ignore it anymore. I talk right back to them. Sometimes it is “positive” like “yes, my tummy looks like a giant pumpkin doesn’t it?” and sometimes they probably think I am insane as I rant back in reaction to their rude comments. But since I have been listening to such for about 50 years now, I’ve just had it. But I do belong to a health club where I swim in Seattle that is full of all types of folks of all ages, sizes, races; not just the uber aggressive gym rat types swimming their laps so I actually must say although even walking let alone any other kind of exercise is entirely hated by moi, my body is very hooked on me enjoying what I call swimming. And oh yeah: did I mention the soak in the hot tub afterward? Life is good!

  2. Hm. I do enjoy exercise but, come to think of it, the “Exercise for the sake of exercise” is actually pretty annoying. I can’t believe I didn’t realise until now that the last time I exercised just to exercise was over a year ago. These days it’s all enjoyment. Treadmills are reserved for warm ups, and I usually read while I’m on there. The purpose is to read and make myself warm.

    Actually, come to think of it, I had this mindset a few weeks ago:

    I want to run!
    Let’s go to the gym!

    I don’t want to go to the gym.
    But I do want to run!

    I ended up going into the bush with my dogs and running for the hell of it. Stupidly fun, and I never felt like I had to or I was being judged, I was just having fun.

  3. I read the “I Hate Exercise” thread because I was curious. I don’t share their hate of exercise — I like playing sports and I love sweating while I’m doing them! As for Hamster Wheel type exercise, for me, I generally don’t enjoy it unless I’m doing it for training for an outdoor activity (hiking, snowshoeing, etc.) or other sport. Most cardio equipment I find really boring though, so I usually only use the spinning bikes & take spinning classes. I found spinning to be a fantastic, high intensity sport that didn’t require me to run. I like to run and I play a lot of ball hockey, but at ~250lbs I tend to need some time to recover from running, but I didn’t want to sit idle, so spinning was an excellent solution.

    I find weight lifting enjoyable too, because for me, I can really notice a difference in day-to-day tasks after training my legs for awhile (squatting and bending down become so easy).

    You know, sports & exercise is the one area of the “Fantasy of Being Thin” that I can’t get rid of because there are activities that I would probably do without a second thought were I more “normal”-sized. There are some activities where size and weight limits are a reality — even if it’s just the fact that it’s extremely difficult (or impossible) to find good sports gear for large people (without breaking the bank).

  4. I don’t mind the hamster wheel of the elliptical. It’s meditative, and I can do interval training on it without running, which I really do hate.
    (Plus, I can pretend I’m in that “Outshined” video with Soundgarden.)

    What I don’t love is when my feet go numb 30 minutes in. (I’ve heard of a few other people having that problem, but I can’t remember what they said. Does anyone here have that problem? What do you do?)

    Also, what Sylvia said about dancing.

    Also, does anyone else find that the activity isn’t so much the problem as the prepping to get ready? The finding the time, finding the socks, remembering the water bottle and the passcode for the front counter and the combination for the locker and blah blah blah? Sometimes I feel like it’s the mental exhaustion that gets me (when I’m not whining about the painfullactic acid residue of the actual movement b/c I’ve skipped consistency too many times once again).

  5. littlem, I totally get that – I barely go to the gym during the summer, and then we hit this awful cold dark rainy time and after a few weeks of inaction I start thinking “i want to go run on the treadmill and sit in the hot tub” but i don’t have a lock and my gym bag isn’t packed and i don’t have TIME and and and…

    Once it’s a habit, there’s no hurdle. But that takes a while.

    I’m with you about purpose, living400pounds – walking on a treadmill makes me warm, it helps my lower back when it’s out of whack, it is a way to watch TV without feeling depressed & cold after an hour or two, it makes me focus my eyes at a different distance (i’m on the computer WAY too much and my eye muscles get sore)…like everything else, I think the diet industry ruined the gym by making us feel like the only reason to do it is to lose weight.

  6. I find that even walking to get somewhere gets boring if it’s the same route all the time. But if I’m walking it enough to get bored of it it probably leads to somewhere I frequently need or want to go so I walk it anyway.

  7. I saw that article and considered commenting, but since I luuuurve exercise I didn’t want to sound like I was crashing the party. It’s weird, because I too hated PE and was totally uncoordinated as a kid (still can’t catch a ball to save my life), so “sports” aren’t my thing, but I love exercise. I like outside hobbies a lot (biking, hiking that sort of thing), but I also really like the gym. I like ellipticals and climbing the stair mill. All that stuff that most people seem to do only to lose weight… except that’s not why I do it. I just really like it. For me it’s like meditating. I suck at seated meditation (thank you ADD), do better at walking meditation, and do even better with an hour on a stairway to nowhere.

    I also like any exercise with a sort of gonzo component. Martial arts, Crossfit, pakour (of course I’m old and have bad knees so I suck at pakour, but it’s still fun to try ;-). Anything where I end up exhausted, sweaty and covered in scrapes and bruises… I am so there. I think it’s my way of combating that whole “fat chicks are frail” thing. Or maybe I just need the endorphin kick and since I don’t like roller coasters or scary movies I do this stuff instead.

    The thing that did hit me strongly about the article though was her realization about how important it is to admit you don’t like something, even something that everyone else will tell you you do like or would like if you just found the right version. I love exercise, but not everyone does and they don’t bloody HAVE to if they don’t. They don’t even have to try if they don’t want to. It doesn’t effect their status as a full citizen of the human race.

    • The thing that did hit me strongly about the article though was her realization about how important it is to admit you don’t like something, even something that everyone else will tell you you do like or would like if you just found the right version.

      Yes. I don’t love all exercise myself, but I totes agree with you.

      • The whole thread, and especially the person who responded to someone who said they didn’t like movement with “Really?” followed by some comment about movement being to the body what thought is to the mind. Ick. It just reminded me of the MILLION conversations I’ve had over the years in which people have tried to convince me I like music.

        I mean, ALL humans like music, right???

        Only, I don’t.

        Hi, my name is Cassi and I hate music. Hate is perhaps too strong, because some of it’s ok and I’ve even gone to the occasional symphony and rock concert, but… given my druthers? I’ll take silence any day, thanks. No, I’m not tone deaf and yes, as a matter of fact, I have listened to and nope, still don’t like it all that much, thanks. I just happen to be different from most of the population in my reaction to music and I have been a happier person since I stopped trying to figure out how to “appreciate” music and just learned to answer the perennial question “what sort of music do you like?” with, “Actually, I’d prefer a little quiet if that’s alright with you.”

        • damn! I used a pointy bracket to enclose an [insert type of music you like that you’re SURE I’d love if only I tried it, HERE] sort of comment and had an html FAIL… my point was just that most people keep thinking that the reason I don’t like music is because I haven’t heard the music THEY like. Surely, once I do I’ll be a convert and realize the error of my ways, amirite?

  8. I think moving one’s body is really important to mental and physical health, yes.

    Love it?

    Goodness me, no!

    Oh sure, sometimes an exercise session feels Godlike and that’s great, but more often it’s a cross-off on a checklist of things I need to get done that day.

  9. My problem with the gym and swimming pool isn’t the exercise component, it’s the fact that here in Germany they just don’t seem to have the concept of privacy in changing rooms i.e. everything is communal. No way! Even when my weight was within cultural norms, I was never comfortable changing in front of others. So, I’ll stick to walking and save my blushes.

    • Well, I go to a US gym, and the gym changing rooms that I’ve been in are communal as well. I found that a bunch of octogenarians parading through the room in the altogether with canes has killed off any real sense of modesty I have.

  10. Uneven walking surfaces are my bugaboo too. Living in an old city with sidewalks sloped to allow rain to run off cause pain in the legs for me. I tend to walk in the street (good thing the streets are tiny without much traffic). Now the city has begun a repaving project and the streets are torn up making walking so much harder. On the other hand it’s been fascinating to discover the old cobblestones under the asphalt. Anyway, thanks for this, I’ll try out the treadmills.

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