Manieri column: A state of laziness? I don’t think so
I was hoping we weren’t going to make the list but, deep down, I knew better.
The votes have been counted and yes, my adopted home of Kentucky is one of the laziest states in America. (It also happens to be the eighth most obese state in the country.)
Six other states — Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee — reported the highest levels of inactivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The results were based on surveys of adults who were asked the question, “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”
I’m calling a foul right away. The question is clearly biased toward traditional forms of exercise.
I’m not suggesting that just because Kentucky also has the dubious distinction of having more adult smokers than any state in the U.S. — except West Virginia — that walking to the store to buy cigarettes should be considered exercise. Although if you walk far enough, you might have a pretty good case. It gets a little tricky if you smoke on the way back.
Nevertheless, it would set a dangerous precedent — counting steps to the fridge, for example, could someday be considered exercise. It’s not that far-fetched. Some believe “competitive eating” is a sport. I’ve never believed jamming six dozen, soggy hot dogs down one’s gullet is very sporting.
I’m making the case here for those of us who engage in silly forms of exercise that are not only physically challenging but really, really dangerous.
Flipping tractor tires, pulling sleds, jumping on boxes, throwing a medicine ball against a wall until you black out — now that’s exercise.
And deadlifting. I’ve found that there’s nothing better for a guy in his 50s with a bad back than lifting very heavy weight off the floor. If the potential for severe injury isn’t there, what’s the point?
Ever hear of a Bulgarian split squat? How about a Turkish get-up? Or what about a Pittsburgh sampler? Actually, I made the last one up but the first two are legit, and I hadn’t heard of them either until I started doing CrossFit.
My personal favorite is the hammer swing. You get to hit a big tire as hard as you can, over and over, with a sledgehammer. Short of wrestling a bear, I can’t think of anything more fun.
The CDC kept federal and state health officials busy for four years collecting laziness data. Where were they when I was doing 10 thrusters, five split jerks and a three Sumo deadlifts?
Golf? Gardening? Please. Where’s the danger? I suppose you can get clocked by a Titleist. And Vito Corleone did drop dead is his garden. All I know is if I don’t have to sign a release form to do it, I’m not interested.
Besides, I’m just as much a danger to myself in my own home. The other day, I was standing on a folding chair — yes, dumb — taking a screw out of the wall when the chair did what folding chairs are supposed to do. I crashed, face-first, on the bedroom floor. I got up and finished the job. One thing I’ve learned from my fitness routine is that a potentially debilitating fall is no reason to stop.
I’m not really trying to defend Kentucky here. Besides, how can I, what with the inactivity, obesity and smoking?
I am defending the often-overlooked and underappreciated alternative exercise community. Do our battered shins (I missed the box a couple of times), strained shoulders and ruptured discs mean nothing?
Don’t talk to me about “calisthenics.” You want calisthenics, I’ll give you calisthenics. You try five sets of five pull-ups, 10 burpees and 25 air squats. You’ll see visions.
I know that running around a parking lot with heavy sandbags on your shoulders isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But we demand equality and recognition. This is 2020 after all.
The CDC and the rest of the world can pretend we don’t exist but we’ll be here, with our Russian kettle bell swings, squat jerks and high pulls.
I demand to be counted, assuming I survive.
Copyright 2020 Rich Manieri, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. His book, “We Burn on Friday: A Memoir of My Father and Me” is available at amazon.com. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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