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Health and enjoyment

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A niece who recently gained a lot of weight said she’s determined to take it off—in a way that does not involve any physical exertion. A male cousin who used to enjoy rich food and never exercised has now for years been in and out of the hospital and suffers continually from ill health. Friends at the beach spend their evening drinking and smoking, then complain in the morning that they feel miserable. I confess I have trouble understanding these people. Far from a penance, healthy diet and sufficient exercise feel like gifts that keep on giving. The food tastes good. The exercise is enjoyable. They make me feel good at the moment while knowing they are also keeping me healthy. And I like how exercise makes me look. I have more sympathy for those without the time to exercise and without the environment that makes purposive physical activity (walking and cycling to destinations) safe and enjoyable, which is why I work hard to promote such environments. But I think it’s also important to challenge prevailing societal views that healthy eating is unpleasant and exercise a loathsome chore. It’s too late for my cousin, but I hope to convince my niece—and others who think like her—that physical movement is a manifestation of joy and that healthy food can be pleasurable as well.