Instinctive Exercise: My dog wants to run — why don't I?

I’ve been running for nearly half my life—about 12 years -- and I still can’t recall a time when I’ve run more than three miles and enjoyed the entire process. Why not?

In a primal sense, we are all animals. It is instinctive for us to survive or care for our bodies just like any other animal. We provide food and shelter for ourselves without thinking twice. Why isn’t exercise of the same instinctive nature as it is for our fellow mammals?

For example, my family has a yellow lab, Tassee. She is 14 years old and therefore, very slow-moving, deaf, and suffers from brief bouts of short-term memory loss. But two years ago, she was begging to be walked, pacing back and forth in the garage, hoping someone will come outside and play fetch, and sometimes, trekking on her own journeys throughout our neighborhood. Tassee would go stir-crazy if we kept her caged up all day. It's her instinctive nature to stretch her legs, run around and chase things.

In contrast, I don’t remember a time when I woke up on a Sunday and proudly announced that I’d like to go for a run and work up a sweat. Instead, watching Charles Osgood of CBS Sunday Morning in bed with a cup of coffee sounds like a fabulous way to spend my morning.

Please don’t misunderstand: In no way do I think we should lead our lives according to dogs’ lifestyles. I just want to know why humans walk the fine line between lazy and active. Is it because our minds are far more developed than other animals’ minds? Do our minds hold the key to leading an active lifestyle? Or not leading an active lifestyle, for that matter? If this is true, which I believe it is, why do we have to break the strong mental barrier that keeps us from getting exercise?

“This was such a terrible idea,” I thought to myself as I gasped for air while jogging in the sweltering August heat.

“Please rain, please rain, please rain,” I repeated over and over in my head.

“Oh my god! I feel like my legs are going to fall off.”

I am only 9 minutes into my jog (which is just over a mile) and the heat is getting to my head.

If you are the type of person who enjoys having an extra slice of pizza on a Friday night, buttery nipple shots on a Saturday night, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet on a Sunday morning, then I’m sure you’ve uttered these negative thoughts to yourself on a Monday evening during your workout.

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