Poll: Would You Exercise if You Didn't Think You Had To?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'm one of those crazy people who likes to exercise. Running is my "drug" of choice, and when I've had a hard day, it makes me feel better and relieves my stress. I can't say that every run is enjoyable, but for the most part, it's free time that allows me to clear my head. The sense of accomplishment I feel afterward (whether my run was 30 minutes or 3 hours long) is enough to keep me addicted.

Exercise has been an easy way to help me control my weight. Don't get me wrong- I'll still see the scale moving in the wrong direction if I've been eating too many of my favorite cookies. In addition to the positive health benefits (like a healthy heart, low blood pressure and low cholesterol) it's something I like to do. But I know that not everyone shares my same feelings. Some people only exercise because their doctor says they have to, or because they are trying to fit into that tiny black dress for their high school reunion. No matter what kind of activity they try, exercise is a chore more than anything else.

I always encourage people to find something they like doing, if at all possible. If you hate to walk on the treadmill but can tolerate a 30 minute ride on the stationary bike, that's a better way to spend your energy. You're more likely to stick with it if you don't dread it. But even if you can find something you'll tolerate doing, there are lots of people who just don't like to exercise. They'd much prefer to spend time reading a good book or going to a movie with friends. I love those things too, but I'd still make time for exercise even if I didn't have to.

If someone told you that you never had to exercise again (and you'd be in perfect health regardless of what you do) would you stop? Would you be okay with never having those feelings of physical accomplishment again? Would you be happy finding other ways to challenge yourself, or do you think that eventually, you'd want to return to an active lifestyle?

Would you still exercise regularly if you didn't have to?

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I would keep hiking, Kayaking or any fun outdoor activity fun for sure. But would quit going to the gym or anything boring. I would exercise to relieve depression and stress. Weather it would have any health bennefits. It help relieves those feelings. Report
I do the gym thing, but I love walking, hiking and biking (even if it's hard to get going sometimes). Report
I would still do it. My favorite exercise is walking. I grew up doing lots of walking to get anywhere and loved it. I still do. My absolute favorite is speed walking as I always had to keep up with an older brother who was over 6' tall. I wasn't quite 5' at the time. Report
No, i would not exercise. I would rather read a good book but I still like to walk around and do things outdoors when the weather is nice but I don' t like the just doing stuff just for the exercise like treadmill or stationery bike which is completely boring. Report
How interesting. If it offered ZERO health benefits, no I don't think I would formally exercise ever. I might run around with my nieces and nephews, but I would never spend my time strength training or going to the gym. I'd rather spend the time doing things with my friends or family. Report
To me it is not really exercise - it is a way of life - I can't image not biking or walking or doing the many things I enjoy in life. They keep me fit, but more important - they keep me happy. Report
It's hard to say. I never would've started exercising if not for my health. Now, though, one of my primary goals isn't to lose weight, but to be healthy AND fit--athletic without having to be an athlete. But the health part gets me going on the hardest days. Fitness by itself wouldn't have a front seat anymore. Report
The Gym is one of thing things where i can get rid of stress
and unwind. The classes are very fun, i like getting healthy. Report
I LOVE working out. I would never, ever, live without it again. The longest I go without running or zumba is 3 days, and that's rare. Getting in a good sweat-inducing workout helps my mental & physical well being sooooooooo much I can't imagine not being able to. Report
YES !! There are tons of different activities I'd do just because it's fun. I'd ride my bike. I'd take walks. I'd take dancing lessons, martial arts, etc...

I LOVE to exercise. If I could stop without a decrease in health and weight loss, I would exercise less because it is time consuming. I am interested in many things. Exercise is close to a part time job. When including preparing, travel, and clean up after it is two hours daily five or six days per week. I would surely continue for the ME time and the endorphins. I would prefer more flexibility. Report
I really enjoyed everyone's honesty. I guess the saying no pain no gain is correct. Keep posting. I need the motivation. I'm just starting and I hate exercise and find any excuse I can not to. I am here reading the blogs right?

Interesting question! I would still do active activities. I would still enjoy gardening, walking in the park with my husband, hiking in the mountains, swimming and walking at the beach, kayaking to tour a coastline or river. And I would still try to live in a place where I could walk for most errands, because I find walking relaxing and driving stressful.

But I'd stop running, stop trying to get faster and go farther. I don't get that much of a kick out of improving my performance or pushing my body to its limits. Some -- but so far, not enough to outweigh the stress and discomfort. I've never felt a runner's high. Taking a walk in the woods is much more relaxing and fulfilling than challenging myself to a run.

But I have to do that high-intensity cardio for health and weight loss, so I take what sense of accomplishment I can get. But if I no longer had to do it, and would still remain healthy, I wouldn't. I'd choose that walk in the woods instead. Report
I would probably give it up if I didn't have to do it to get/stay healthy. I'd rather chase my kids in the yard, read a book/magazine, or do some scrapbooking. I love running, but recently with all of my running related issues, if someone told me today that I'd never have to run again and I could be the weight I want and healthy, I'd probably give up the running - at least for a little while - because things have been so frustrating in that regard. If I could give it all up, I would probably do so. Only b/c I can find so many other things I'd like to do with that 2-3 hours on the weekend that I spend at the track that would be more 'productive'. Report
I wasn't sure I would until I took a trip abroad for 2 weeks. It really wasn't possible to exercise regularly or at a level I normally would while traveling. I realized by the end of the trip, I really missed working out. I missed using my body physically in a way that challenged me and I missed the feel good feeling when I'm finished. With that being said though, I probably wouldn't exercise as often as I do now. Report
I would definitely exercise because I enjoy activities like dancing, swimming and hiking. but like many who have already posted, I doubt that I would schedule as many sessions per week if I were not exercising intentionally and trying to maintain a weight loss of nearly 70 pounds. Also, one of my favorite forms of exercise is weight lifting, and that's an activity I started only two years ago (I am 70). If I had not been actively seeking a healthier life style, I never would have tried weight-lifting! Report
I don't hate exercise, but the only reason I do it at the frequency and intensity that I do is because I have to, in order to maintain my weight.
I would never give up riding horses, walking the dogs, swimming, or things I enjoy, but never having to run ever again, or do circuits, would be a blessing. Report
I think I would always exercise, because I love the way I feel after a good workout. I've always said the biggest obstacle to my exercising is time..I'm always battling the time issue and hate that..but as my son gets older and I have more time, I definitely have seen myself using that extra time to sneak in an extra few minutes on my workouts.. Report
I do like how I feel when I am active on a regular basis. But I think if I didn't have to do it, I would tone it down a lot. I'm trying to lose weight, so I am training for a 10k which means an hour run 3 times a week, plus I play baseball once a week. I wouldn't give up baseball, but I certainly wouldn't run if I didn't have to. I might take up something a little less intensive of a workout. Report
I really don't like to exercise. I'm not in good health and it is hard for me to do the necessary things, like cleaning house, grocery shopping----you know, all those fun things. But I did buy a stationary bike, so maybe that will help me.

Betty Report
I am a slight running junkie...if I go more than2-3 days without I feel cranky kinda lime having withdrawls! And I also find that whenever I get a migraine headache I can take all the meds I want but the only thing that helps is getting a run in...even if its only 2 miles! Sometimes its really hard to lace up my shoes when I just want to crawl in a dark corner but I know if I just get out there ill feel much better!!! Report
I answered "yes," but what I really mean is not that I love workouts, but I love to walk and hike and be active, and yoga and Pilates make me feel wonderful. If I never had to go on an exercise bike again, I'd be delighted, but things that put me in touch with my body and with nature soothe my soul. Report
Yes i would because in April I started exercising for the first time in my life. Since I became aware of the fact that a majority of the things I did for fun instead of exercising were exercise, I know I couldn't give them up because that is my goal to be able to do those things again. I also found out that I love my strength training and incredibly enough pilates, that still shocks me. The other reason is as long as I exercise, I will be able to walk, without exercise, I will stiffen up, hurt and very quickly not be able to walk literally. So to me exercise equals walking (no wheelchair) camping, hiking, gardening, photgraphy (nature studies) traveling, volunteering at national parks, hugging people again, feeling and looking great, less pain, being able to hold things in my hands without dropping them, maybe even working again at least consulting, socializing, concerts, dancing and on and on. Exercise is not only saving my life but giving me a whole brand new one with a wonderful future. Report
I really enjoy exercising and I am on a "high" after a good workout. I don't think I would stop exercising even if I didn't "have" to. I feel wonderful after a good workout and it elevates my mood so I don't think I would stop. :) Report
I'm not going to lie - I would stop exercising. That's not to say I would never do anything "physical" in my life ever again, but would I continue purposeful exercise? Heck no. I have way better things to do with my time, and the only reason why I make time for exercise is because of my health. If that's not a factor then there is no need to pay for a gym membership. Report
If I were told I was in perfect health and didn't need to exercise for its own sake, of *course* I would stop. To be able to enjoy a swim without fussing about whether I'm burning "enough" calories? To have time to have a life without having to spend hours each week jumping around like a frog in a blender? That's the easiest question I've had to answer in a looooong time. Report
Exercise (and running specifically) started as a means to help lose weight and get more healthy; however, in doing so, it also introduced me to my inner athlete that I didn't even know I had in me. It started with 5Ks, then 15k race, did my first half Marathon this year and am now hooked on triathlons. So no... even if I could maintain my level of health with no exercise, I certainly wouldn't be able to maintain (or improve) my level of athleticism without putting in the needed work. Report
Would I still have a buff kick azz body tho??? THAT is the question! *LOL* I'm super healthy anyway so I don't exercise for that reason but exercise gives me the muscles I crave so I'm on that train. I like exercise mostly but I would be quite happy if I never HAD to lift a finger but could just do it occasionally. So many interests, so little TIME!!!! Report
If I knew I could quit and stay healthy, I would just exercise LESS. I really do enjoy it. It's difficult to find the time some days though. Report
I probably would rather be meditating, reading, socializing ... and, hey, I live in New York City and am no runner! What a big, vibrant city to be a non-runner in! And perfect health no matter WHAT I do. Perfect health would mean I could drink! I'm a teetotaler because of my medication. Perfect health would mean I could go back to my favorite old foods that I abandoned 8 years ago when I started my diet! If I were in Perfect Health, I would probably be in tip-top condition, 24/7 no pre-habilitation, training or cross-training required ... yeah, I would smoke the hell out of many of my swim companions ... when I was able to get to a pool. My foot problems would be gone, and I would go on Onion walking tours. You think this is a 25 year old gadabout writing this?

I'm 56 years old, non-retired, no life, overscheduled, and I'm writing this! Report
Absolutely!!!!!! I hate exercising. I guess sometimes I get a feeling of accomplishment afterwards, but that's only because I *have* to do it and I'm proud of myself for managing to do something I hate. I've never noticed that it benefits my sleep or stress level, both of which are pretty much always bad. I'd still enjoy walking in pleasant surroundings and I like having fun in the water (not so much swimming laps, too boring) but I have to force myself to do daily exercise because I know it's crucial for my health. If there was a magic no-exercise formula, I'd be all over it. Report
I hate getting up early just to fit in a run, during which I watch the clock every few minutes waiting for that 30 min to be over. So, if I didn't have to exercise for the purpose of exercise, I wouldn't. I don't mind doing active things I actually like to do, but if I did those every day for 30-60 min, then they would become a chore instead of enjoyable. I've never managed to get to the point that I enjoy exercise (not for lack of trying). I just tolerate it. The closest to "accomplishment" that I've felt with exercise is "Thank GOD it's over!" and then I just try not to think about tomorrow morning when I "get" to do it all over again. Report
Exercise is an issue before I do it. I never want to start. But I'm always glad while I'm doing it and after I'm done. I'd hate to lose those feelings. Report
Very interesting question!!!! If I could still be healthy, I might say no....I'd give up the time spend exercising. But then again, the being outdoors that it often takes with it is worth retaining.

Thanks for posing the question.... Report
I was in great shape last year and really didn't have to workout but i still did crossfit. I got prego and let my self go, but now Im finally back and yes it is helping me lose weight but honestly crossfit is my drug! I crave it i dream about it!!! It kicks my butt during but afterwards i feel so powerful and happy and during the workout all of my stress in life just floats away! Report
I wouldn't exercise anymore. However, I would hope that meant I was fit enough to do the physical activities that I do love! Report
I think what this poll is really trying to ask is whether we exercise mainly to prevent disease and lose weight, or for the sake of other benefits exercise provides - good mood, beautiful tone and posture, and, yes, a sense of accomplishment, among others.

I certainly would not give up my martial arts class or my hikes! In fact, if I were already in perfect health, I would exercise MORE, since my knees wouldn't hurt, I wouldn't worry about injuring my back, and at perfect weight I would certainly be more agile. Besides, I want that next belt. Report
Some days I can't wair ro exercise especially if it means I can swim. do water aerobics or walk a beach I do love to dance and I enjoy my Wii Just Dance but there are days when I'm just too tired and the aches happen and the thought of even moving is difficult Report
I would be totally cool with not having to have an exercise regimine in order to stay slim and healthy. I would still do active things, but not to the same degree. It would be 100% about enjoyment, so as soon as it was uncomfortable, I would probably ease back on the throttle.

I can get uncomfortable pushing my boundaries in other ways...traveling to places I have never been, learning a new language, doing charity work, etc. The sense of accomplishment would still be there in regard to those things. Report
I would still exercise in some form or other. I sleep better and have a happier attitude when I stay active with some form of physical exercise. I enjoy walking, hiking my stationary bike when going outside isn't an option. I am also going to start belly dancing again which I enjoyed. I also think I will check into the Zumba. Report
Yes, I would still exercise because I love the feeling afterwards, but I would cut back to probably 3 or 4 times a week, instead of 5 to 6. Report
A pretty loaded question. I probably would not. I work out in the morning; it gives me energy for the day without the need for coffee. But if I did not need a natural pick me up in the morning why bother. I would just stay in bed and flip channels until I was ready to get up and make breakfast and go. On the other hand I like to walk, not the fast pace but the stroll in the park. I also like tennis and would continue to play. The question is not necessarily about "exercising" but continuing to by physically active which is not necessarily exercise but is good for you. I hate loaded questions. Report
Of course I would stop. If, as you say, you get no benefits from exercising (because you're already in perfect health), then you WON'T get that adrenaline high, wont get that energy spike. And what kind of accomplishment is it really, if you are already in perfect health? It's not. It's just a waste of time.

Of course, if there is something I enjoy (lets say... some type of sport) then I will still do it. But I will not do "exercise" for exercise's-sake. Report
No I would not stop exercising. I really enjoy that feeling after a good workout. It gives me an adrenaline rush and I feel like I have doubled my energy level by working out. Plus I enjoy being active. I'm not very good at sitting still unless I'm sewing or scrapbooking. And when the weather is nice I love to be outside swimming or walking. I even put my ipod on a speaker and do zumba in the backyard !! :) Report
I love to go walking,hiking,swimming and I really like cardio Kick boxing. I work harder when i have stress. It really helps me feel better. Kick boxing really makes me achey for a few days but thay will pass with time. Report
The way I can answer that now is vastly different than before I started changing my lifestyle over a year ago. I HATED exercise (it was the evil 'e' word in our household); once I found something I enjoy, though (running is my drug of choice, too!), it became an indispensable part of my routine. Report
This is tough, because I enjoy exercise when I do it... but I don't do it enough due to chronic pain and depression. I lack the motivation to do it, and sadly the feeling of accomplishment isn't enough motivation for me! Report
Yep, I still would, as there are many forms of exercise I enjoy doing. I love to walk, run, bike, hike, swim, do martial arts, and Zumba. But admittedly, I'd probably cut out some forms of exercise...mainly strength training...if they didn't have any physical benefits. Strength training feels like such a chore!! Report
I am fairly certain I would continue to exercise. Most people seem to think that exercise is the painfully boring walk on the treadmill, but I love gardening, walking the dog, dancing, and I think without these active joys I would be really bored. Report
I certainly wouldn't exercise just for the sake of exercising. I hate it. But I do like swimming, hiking, walking, and dancing, so I suppose I wouldn't quit exercising completely. It's enjoyable as long as I don't have to guilt myself into it. Report
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