The top 5 OTHER benefits of working out

I saw a link this morning to a NY Times Wellness blog post that talks about a study on the long-term benefits on aging of starting the kind of middle-aged running program I’ve foolishly enthusiastically committed myself to.  Well, I guess it’s not specific to running, but rather any kind of aerobic fitness in general which I suppose could include skipping down the street while muppet-flailing and chirping like a cuckoo for 30 minutes, 3 times a week.

Whatever works for you, I’m not here to judge.

Anyway, the gist is that the study shows that getting fit in middle age, even if you’ve spent the better of your adult life rounder than pre-Subway Jared and solely dedicated to leaving a wide, deep imprint of your, um, dark side on your couch, can have significant longevity and quality-of-life benefits down the road.  In other words, if you pry yourself off the couch now, you’re more likely to have more enjoyable time with said couch when the Golden Years show up and convince you the 4:30 PM dinner buffet is a good thing.

Indeed, that’s kind of the same thing I wrote I was hoping for in my running post.  I have to admit, though, it’s nice when something you sort of just believed turns out to be supported by actual, you know, science, eh*? 

Anyway, it got me to thinking (no, you don’t smell anything burning…just, shush you.) about the myriad other benefits of a middle-aged running/aerobic fitness program.  So, here’s five:

  1. Me Time – Seriously, you love your spouse, significant other, kids, mom, boss, extended family, friends, cats, and fish.  We all understand, really.  So it’s okay that sometimes you just need a half an hour to yourself when no one’s asking you if “these pants make me fat”, or telling you to unclog the toilet, or complaining that your personal couch-crease is embarrassing when their parents come over.  When you’re out there getting a solid aerobic workout by yourself? It’s just you, fresh air, and your incredibly labored breathing.
  2. New Clothes – You can’t exactly get out there in a pair of decade-old denim jeans and your favorite 1994 Metallica “Ride the Lightning” concert tee, now can you?  Absolutely not, if for no other reason than because unless you don’t want to end up as flat as that toad you found when you were riding your bike in the fifth grade.  You need something drivers can actually see.  Black t-shirts don’t work well, fancy lightning graphics or not.  So you’re going to have to get some new stuff.  Preferably something lightweight and reflective.  For instance, I just bought a shirt this week that’s apparently the color of nuclear fusion.  It may be the first article of clothing I’ve purchased for myself that I didn’t absolutely have to have since before we had kids.
  3. Shoes like a Peacock’s Plummage – Admit it, you’ve always wanted to strut your stuff in a set of footwear  that would make both Huggy Bear and Bootsy Collins quiver with technicolor envy.  Problem is, you’re kind of, well, you know, the lamely-dressed middle-aged  dude who’s idea of flashy is intentionally mismatching your tie and your belt.  In other words, you and electric green shoes go together about as well as fish sauce and cottage cheese.  But workout shoes, man?  All the rules are off!  So get that pair of neon purple kicks and show them that you’re not always the same boring color grey.
  4. MOAR BEER! – You’ve always enjoyed kicking back with a couple, er, um, perhaps more, Thursday evening beers, right?  Unfortunately, no matter how much you might wish you could drink the beers and leave those several hundred extra calories in the glass, you can’t really have one without the other.  But wait! Beer is apparently a sports drink these days.  So, if you want to keep your Thursdays sudsy, just get a workout in first.  Can you say, “guilt free?”
  5. Zombie Apocalypse prep –  So, you’ve seen Zombieland?  What?  No?!  Ok, first things first: you gotta fix that.  Go watch Zombieland.  Yes, now.  You can get it from Netflix or from some on-demand service or probably stream it from Amazon.  Whatever.  Go watch it, we’ll wait. *whistles* *looks around* Done?  Awesome.  Good flick, eh?  Too bad about [redacted for spoilers], though, ya know?  Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes, the Zombie Apocalypse.  Obviously, Rule #1: Cardio.  So, when the zombies come shambling after you, all a-groanin’ and a-moanin’ for your sweet, tasty grey matter, it’ll be good to know you can lead them on a merry chase and possibly even outrun them, and not end up zombie meat because you stopped to the puke in the bushes and found a hider.


*I feel bad the Creation Museum people will never have this feeling.  But then, I suppose they have their self-righteousness and—inexplicably—several large piles of Kentucky tax dollars to console themselves.