Why is exercise so boring?

As a child, I loved going to to the park. I still do, but now it is to take my daughter. She asks to go to the park incessantly. Parks are the quintessential “built environment”. It is a place specifically made for physical activity to take place. “The built environment includes chemical, physical and biological agents, but also factors in the physical and social environments.” (1) Furthermore, they are ubiquitous throughout the country and I have never met a child who does not want to go and play at the park. My daughter’s zeal for playing in the park is matched only by my loathing for running around to make sure she does not fall and crack her head open. When did my attitude change? As I reflect on this question, it is quite difficult for me to pinpoint the exact moment I stopped wanting to go.

As I recall, I went up to 6th grade and then after middle school, I stopped. My middle school did not have any of the interesting contraptions present in the elementary school. There were just a couple of swings and a slide. I wonder why? Was it that the students had no interest? Had we mature 12 year olds “grown out of it?” or was it the fact that there was no access . Which one came first. As I reflect upon this time of my life, I wonder if in fact, I was robbed of the choice. I then immediately remember that time of my life. Middle school is a time where assimilation and not sticking out are key for survival. However, the idea of a large jungle gym is appealing to me, even at this age. Exercise becomes boring because we rob ourselves of the fun things that could make it enjoyable. Instead, we cling to mundane activities such as running or jogging and riding a bike. An adult sized jungle gym would be great fun and a lot less boring than the usual modes of exercise and activity. The changes in the urban environment and and geographic scale are some of the factors that influence physical inactivity. (2)

Papas, M. et al. 2007. The built environment and obesity. Epidemiologic Reviews, 29: 129–143.

Handy, S. et al. 2002. How the built environment affects physical activity: views from urban planning. Am J. Prev Med, 23(2S): 64–73.

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