Mullen, Jim

Jim Mullen

The treadmills at my health club were all in use when I walked in today. I had to wait for half an hour before there was a free one. Funny, I never had to wait for one in September, October, November or December, but starting January 1, the gym was suddenly busier than Walmart on Black Friday.

There were guys I've never seen before in the weight room, doing sit-ups while holding hundred-pound plates to their chest. There were women in yoga pants on every elliptical machine. The spinning class was full, the Zumba room was packed and someone was even using the rowing machine. That was a first. All the lanes of the swimming pool were full, and it was hard to find an empty locker.

Most of the exercisers had that "I've made a New Year's Resolution and I mean it this time!" look on their faces. I've had that look before, so I understand it. But I know from experience that there won't be any trouble finding an empty treadmill a week from now. By mid-February, the staff will be twiddling their thumbs trying to find things to do to stay busy.

If you ask what happened to all that New Year's resolve, no one will say that the exercise was too hard or too boring. They will say that something came up at work, or one of the kids got sick, or they had to take the car to the shop. Pretty soon a week goes by, and then you have to shop after work for something special for Valentine's Day, and on it goes. There are a thousand different little things to do.

Life always gets in the way. But even with all the "real life" stuff happening, somehow there's always time to find a half-hour to watch "Jeopardy!" or "Wheel of Fortune." And besides, you're plenty active. It's not as if you're sitting around doing nothing! You're posting on Facebook and refreshing your Twitter feed all the time. You're ordering things on Amazon, you're fixing up the house. You're busy planning that family vacation. Then there are the grandkids, the pets, the birthdays, and you have to make something special for that one event, and there's the potluck dinner this Friday at the Nussbaums'.

There's just not enough time in the day to do all that and go to the gym, too.

How, then, do other people find the time to go? Are they childless? Friendless? Petless? Grandchildrenless? Don't they ever watch TV? Don't they ever waste time on the computer? Maybe they have servants that do all that stuff for them. Or maybe they simply feel the gym is worth it.

If it keeps them out of the hospital one day a year, what is that worth? If their extra leg muscles keep them from falling and breaking a hip, what is that worth? If exercise lowers your cholesterol or helps control your diabetes, what is that worth? If it keeps your heart healthy, isn't that better than having your chest cracked?

And exercise can be fun. Swimming, dancing, biking, hiking -- lots of people do those for fun. Compared to being sick, it's a pleasure. It's not a resolution, it's a new life.

Yes, I know we all have to die of something, and that all the exercise and healthy living in the world won't put off the inevitable. Even the most diligent of us can be taken down too soon. But given a choice, I'd rather the process be quicker rather than slower, and peaceful rather than traumatic.

If you want to make a New Year's Resolution, here's a good one: I resolve to be around for next New Year's Eve!

Contact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com

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