Health

Are fitness and endurance goals pushing people over the edge?

Slackline high in the mountains

Slackline high in the mountains  

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Is too too much of a good thing really good when it comes to setting fitness and endurance goals

Recently, actor Godfrey Gao died at 35 after he collapsed on the sets of Chase Me. A reality show filmed at night, it sees celebrities compete against pro sportspeople, to test those cornerstones of all fitness activity: speed, strength, endurance, balance.

Have you felt of late though, that we’re all part of a sort of reality show that dwells on fitness to the extent that if you’re not doing something ‘substantial’ — lifting a loaded barbell, working the ropes, swimming 1,500 metres thrice a week, you’re relegated to the bottom of this new fitness caste system?

You can’t just be running 5k or training for a half marathon — you better be doing an ultra. And if you don’t look like a pro with the right gear, well, what’s the point of being? Amateur sport is being seen like a corporate ladder to climb.

How did we get to the point of this extreme, where we’ve tied ourselves up in knots about going harder, pushing ourselves, working towards a higher goal? It’s happened because, as the actor Adil Hussain recently told me in an interview, we have shifted, as a society, from being knowledge-driven to becoming goal-oriented.

This puts our various organs out of sync with each other — not just a mind-body disconnect, but an organ disconnect. In fact, my mind may be speaking to my legs telling it to go faster; my heart may be crying out for me to stop.

If you are in touch with your body (mind included, because hell, it’s a part of the body so can we please stop saying mind-body, as if the mind is dangling like a spare part outside of it), and you slow down or are ‘stagnant’, it’s a matter of great shame.

I am a part of this self-shaming club: some years ago, I took part in the shortest leg of Delhi’s first triathlon — the sprint tri. I haven’t made any ‘progress’. I should have done the Ironman in Goa this year, I tell myself, so I keep quiet at the few athlete meet-ups I attend. “I am not a triathlete,” I say with shame in my voice, “I just dabble,” admitting in that one sentence that I haven’t tried hard enough, I’m not as good as they are, I don’t know how I’m even sitting here facing them.

Down the rabbit hole of self-doubt, self-blame, and the need to prove that we are somehow better people if we just pushed ourselves a little harder to run across ice or a sun-bleached desert.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 8:21:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/are-fitness-and-endurance-goals-pushing-people-over-the-edge/article30135949.ece

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