The Strenuous Life
A future American president once made a speech where he warned about the dangers of the easy life; and how Americans were becoming idle. He said that the men of America should strive to live a strenuous life, full of activity, for the good of themselves, and their country. This future president was the great Theodore Roosevelt, and the speech was made way back in 1899.
Here is the short book from which the speech was taken – http://www.bartleby.com/58/1.html
Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered greatly from Asthma. He conquered this through consistent hard work, and became a strong and healthy young man, excelling in wrestling and rather extreme outdoor pursuits. He preached and lived the strenuous life, despite a doctor telling him as a teenager that he needed to look after his weak heart, advice he ignored throughout his strenuous life.
The warnings of Theodore Roosevelt seem to show that the pussification of the west which many strength and fitness bloggers write about is nothing new. I believe that the age of the idle comes and goes, but when crisis hits it’s the men who embrace the strenuous life who pick up the slack, and create better times for themselves and their country, exactly as Roosevelt foresaw.
Now in the 21st Century I’m not about to say that we should return to the horse and cart, and shun the advances of technology, on the contrary I believe that the advance of technology should be embraced but we must recognise and feed the physical side of ourselves. Having an easy way of shopping online is a good thing, nothing is as tedious as shopping, but selecting an easy method of exercise is a mistake which the majority of exercisers seem to make.
When it comes to exercise one should choose the tougher of two alternatives. Do I do Squats with a Swiss ball on my back rolling up and down a wall, or do I put a heavy barbell on my back and make sure I Squat low? You know which you should do. Do I sit on a stationary bike reading my Kindle, or do I get my bike out, find a nasty hill and cycle up it 10 times; you know which one you should do!
In my experience I have noticed that those who strive for the idle life may have their wish for a while; they might be able to do a job which requires minimal effort on their part. They might be able to spend much of their leisure time sitting in front of the tube eating snack foods. They might even be able to do this for a few years but there will come a point where even doing the minimum at work will become a challenge; there will come a point where even getting out of your lazy boy chair will become an effort for you, and suddenly your easy life isn’t so easy anymore.
You either push your limits or they’ll come and find you; and when they do it’s a very nasty place to be.
I implore you not to let that happen. Body, mind, and character all need the strenuous life. Choose the tough road when it comes to exercise and your body will thank you. Read challenging books from time to time and you mind will remain sharp. And once in a while do something which scares you a little and you will be a person of character. Maybe you won’t be remembered like Theodore Roosevelt but you can still live a great life if you embrace the ethics of a strenuous life.