If you ask me, the fact that it’s now known that Andrew Marr suffered a stroke while working out on a rowing machine has to mean there has never been a better time to give up exercise. You may have even been promising yourself that you are going to give up exercise for quite a while now – Tomorrow! I’ll start tomorrow! – but there is no time like the present and, if your goals are realistic, no reason you can’t make progress quickly.
I have given up exercise myself, and feel great. You can’t, after all, beat yourself up for not doing any exercise if you have resolved to not do any exercise. I call this the “No Pain, No Pain” regime, and can offer you the following practical tips:
- Don’t set yourself up for failure by starting out with an impossible goal. Any little reduction in activity is going to provide a great boost so start by, say, always choosing the lift over stairs, and always opting to wait 40 minutes for a bus even though you are only going one stop. Beginners at giving up exercise sometimes say they can’t stand waiting 40 minutes to go the one stop, but no one said this would be easy, or you wouldn’t have to put in the time.
- To sustain your motivation and willpower, hang out with like-minded people. Such people can generally be found, for example, at your local Toby Carvery (£5.99, unlimited), in the pub, or perhaps in their own homes watching some cookery programme while eating dry cereal from the box. In all these instances, no one is likely to undermine your efforts by exclaiming: “Let’s do a Davina DVD!”
- Beware “hidden exercise”. For instance, getting very drunk will almost certainly involve stumbling from bar to bar as well as stealing traffic cones, and displays of outrageous dancing. All of this counts as exercise and adds up.
- Should you feel yourself weaken, just think of anyone who does yoga and how irritating they are. And all those joggers who wear shorts over their sweatpants, like it’s in any way OK.
- Congratulations! By reading this, you have just taken the first step towards refusing to torment your body just so you can gain an extra 10 days at the end of your life. And one last thing: although it is always wise to consult your GP before undertaking any lifestyle changes, it may not be necessary in this instance
(No Pain, No Pain is available from all good bookshops at £19.99; steep for just four words, I agree, so I’ve padded it out to 320 pages with charts, recipes and testimonies from a wide variety of people made up for this very purpose. “I saw results in my first week” – Mrs V Simmons, Rochester.)