Exercising to keep sane--a guest blog--part 1 of 2

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Michael Friesen, a first year student in the iSchool’s ARM stream shares his thoughts

I was originally going to title this series “The importance of exercising” only to decide against it for two reasons. The first was that I feared it might come off as self-righteous. The second was that I don’t think exercising is a moral imperative (no one suffers if you don’t) so much as it’s a strategy to keep sane.

The other week I watched a podcast featuring multiple time Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and submission grappling champion Roger Gracie. During the interview, Roger was asked about his preternatural calmness; his reply was wonderfully straightforward: “I’m calm like this because of Jiu-Jitsu. I feel like I’m meditating when I’m fighting. In Jiu-Jitsu, losing control means losing the fight.”

As a practitioner of BJJ, I know exactly what Roger is talking about, but I don’t think his observations should be restricted to jiu-jitsu. As just one example, runners often speak of a “runner’s high,” which Wikipedia describes as “a euphoric feeling a person receives from intense physical exertion” (“Exercise”). So regardless of whatever physical activity we choose to engage in, we’re doing ourselves a favour by removing ourselves – if only for a short time – from the various worries and resentments that build up in the course of a day.

But if most people agree that exercise reduces stress, promotes physical and mental well-being, and boosts self-esteem, why don’t more of us (especially grad students who could use a self-esteem boost now and again!) do it? It comes down to two reasons, in my opinion. The first is time, or rather, the lack thereof. The second is lack of familiarity with an enjoyable –and affordable! – form of exercise.

more from Michael next week!