This article in the New Scientist is all about how exercise affects the body and the improvement in health that it causes.  What caught my attention, however, was not the scientific details (interesting though they are) but the dramatic way in which the article starts:

IT’S 9 am in the office – time for my daily medication. As usual, I slink off to the fire escape for my fix. Twenty minutes later, I’m back at my desk, brimming with vitality and raring to go.

The image of him sneaking off as if taking some exercise is something to be ashamed of stuck in my head.  It brought to mind a future in which everyone has become immensely lazy (not so different from today, really), so much so that taking exercise would make you the odd one, the social outcast.  What would it be like to be a person in that society who had discovered they enjoyed exercise?  How would that even happen?

Imagine: a woman is driving across the country to meet with someone and her car breaks down.  She knows that it will be days until she is found by another person (and for some reason she has no phone), so she has to walk to the nearest town.  It’s only a mile or two, but she is so unfit that it takes hours and she is exhausted.  She expects to feel horrible, but the next day she discovers the deep bone-aching exhaustion somehow makes her feel more alive.  She walks again, and again, sometimes to get places, sometimes for no reason.  Her neighbours start to look at her oddly, and children won’t play with her kids any more.  What happens next?

There’s also the effect of all that laziness on the nation’s health to consider – exercise decreases the risk of heart disease, various types of cancer, dementia, and so on, and also increases memory and concentration.  With exercise removed, there would be more illness, and fewer people who had the concentration to get through medical school.  I sense a descending spiral of doom here.