“An Object At Rest…”


Here at a couple of months old I am already showing my preference for reclining in a hammock. As I near the end of my month of posts on diet and exercise, I have been pondering my resistance to exercise. Clearly as a child I was very active. In high school and college I did a great deal of walking in the course of my daily life. As a young mother I certainly was very active most of the time. Then middle age set in and I began to seek out opportunities to move as I have shown in my jogging, jumping, vaulting, swimming and Curve workouts. Today I go twice a week for a rigorous workout of weights and resistance exercises with a personal trainer.

But it has all seemed like work from that first necessity to “seek out opportunities to move.” Why has that been the case? I finally remembered Newton’s first law of physics. “A body at rest stays at rest.” It needs to be acted upon to move. As long as I had the need to move–to get somewhere for example–I got that body moving. But as soon as it was optional, as soon as I had to “make” myself move, the inertia proved stronger than the impetus to move.

All of this is very ironic since Newton’s also says that a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by an opposing force. My translation of this points out that once I start moving in the gym I find that I am actually enjoying myself and stop simply because I am exhausted. Somehow though I never hold onto that joy. The next time I imagine moving, I find that I prefer that my body “stays at rest.” It’s a paradox shared by many a non exerciser. Maybe we need a new law to explain it.

18 thoughts on ““An Object At Rest…”

  1. I don’t find exercise enjoyable, even when I’m doing it. I find it boring. Walking the dogs is preferable in the forest (where I used to live) rather than along straight droves around flat fields where we live now (not many forests in the UK Fenland. Not a vast number of trees at all.)
    I love to dance, which is why I stuck with Zumba for so long, until the instructor gave up daytime classes.
    I once enjoyed yoga (back when it was an excuse to leave the toddler with Mum for an hour) but I can do it here at home more easily than getting myself out to a class. (Except, I don’t).
    I loved Scottish country dancing but there are no classes near here (not so much for the exercise, which is moderate, but because it made me try to remember the steps after an initial walk-through. I’ve got lazy about remembering things – sequences, routes, phone numbers. I think we all have since the advent of the mobile phone).
    I stand to work at my computer because it’s bad to sit all day, but now my ankles are swelling and I’ve developed plantar fasciitis (heel pain) so have to unplug the laptop and sit at the table with it until its battery runs low. D’you know, even that interruption is a nuisance when I’m in full flow.
    I think the problem is, I have better things to do than exercise.


  2. It is interesting how we can become addicted to exercise (some of us at least) and often push ourselves over perceived personal limits. I don’t go to any gym, but I walk very briskly with my dog, every day. I usually cover up to six miles, but on good-weather days, have extended that to ten or more. When my friend suggested a walking holiday on the steep hills of Cumbria, I thought I would find it too difficult, But I ended up walking for eight hours a day, every day for six days. We covered around eighty miles that week, but at least half of that was up very steep hillside paths.

    Of course I was aching and tired, but I realised that I could probably carry on like that for many more days, had the holiday not come to an end. Once I had seen that I could do it, I didn’t want to stop. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


  3. That’s great that you have stuck to a physical routine, even though it’s hard to get started sometimes. I like your application of Newton’s first law, maybe it actually applies in some ways. Still, you are not alone in preferring to be in a state of rest. I think that’s almost a universal law as well.


  4. I believe it’s called the law of motivation…
    It entirely depends on our motivation for exercising
    & whether the combination of that base motivation + activity = future joyful reactivation of movement. 😉


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