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Coronavirus Log: Why do I exercise? Vanity, it turns out

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Why do I exercise? It’s almost a month since gyms across the country closed their doors - or in the case of my local PureGym, its weird, mechanically operated alien-pod-door - and I’ve been confronted with a question most people find relatively easy to answer: why do I exercise?

Of course, it’s a variety of reasons, but essentially it can be reduced down to two simple motivations: health and vanity. For most people under a certain age, if you were to ask them them this question, they would tell you it’s a healthy balance between the two, putting them somewhere in the middle of the health/vanity continuum: looking to ensure the blood keeps flowing through their bodies as it should, and of course, look good in the process.

I too, if you were to have asked me, would have probably placed myself somewhere in the middle of that continuum, but I’ve always suspected that answer is a little dishonest - always trying to put an added emphasis on the importance of health, which, I should add, is entirely undermined by weekends spent guzzling alcohol and heaving in tobacco.

Being forced into social isolation has forced me to answer this question more honestly. Since we were confined to our homes, deprived of our daily routines, and perhaps more tellingly, removed from the gaze of the opposite sex, I’ve found little motivation to pull the yoga mat from under my bed and start squeezing out pushups. But whist the shops, bars, and restaurants are closed indefinitely, my internal organs are still operating business as usual. Every day not spent exercising is, in theory at least, another knock to my overall physical health.

Yet, interestingly, as my physical health deteriorates, it no longer feels like much of a loss. It seems that once my physical condition is of no interest to the outside world, it’s of no interest to me either. Just as with real currencies, the currency of physical health begins to tank once there’s nobody to trade it with.

Self-isolation has drawn the curtain back on the fact that my exercise routine was fuelled by nothing more than vanity, and very little interest in actually being a healthy human being.

As summer approaches, and it begins to look as though lockdown rules might start being relaxed, with gyms possibly even reopeing their doors, does this mean that I will know better than to feed into this vanity, and cancel my membership? Not a chance. Sun’s out, guns out.

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