Valerie Yules Letters

April 11, 2015

Waste of exercise – do housework instead!

Climate change and Housework Exercise

Recently a radio station ran a campaign for more exercise. People rang in about how they exercised with gyms, bikes and so on. None of it was useful, apart from transport.

In the past until about 1950. and in many countries still, exercise by almost everybody was useful. Only the wealthy took on useless exercise – or huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’, which had something at the end of it, or in ancient Greece, they went to the Gymnasium.

Most of the people rested as their recreation; Their work was their exercise – outside, growing their food, or inside, cooking, cleaning and making their clothes.

Today in our cities almost everybody uses electricity instead of exercise in the home.

Yet we can reduce carbon emissions by reducing unnecessary use of electricity and exercising instead.

People could save electricity by bending their knees, stretching their arms, strengthening their arm muscles, tuning up their wrists, and reducing their waistline. Thus with minimum electricity and carbon emissions, they would  sweep and garden, clean the floor, polish, and sweep cobwebs off the ceiling.

It would improve their circulation, tone up pelvic-floor muscles, keep the heart fit, strengthen the legs and prevent osteoporosis, by doing housework like it was done up to 1950, without unnecessary electricity.

Carbon-emissions are saved by not driving.

Walking to go shopping used to require for light shopping, a basket, soft-handled string-bag, dilly-bag or backpack, and for heavy shopping, a shopping jeep or pram. This is exercise especially good when the back was kept straight and elegant and pulling or pushing with your arms so that the back was not bent.  Shopping was not weighed down with wasteful packaging

A good hand-mower for level or ‘drought’ lawns.  Push from the waist, not hunched, for figure-improving exercise for the stomach.  Save $$$ and £££.  A hand-mower saves carbon emissions and does not annoy neigbours.  There is at least one excellent mower on the market so light it almost flies.

Do repetitive jobs with rhythm for more speed, pleasure and exercise   – eg dishwash by hand, hang up washing, make beds, use a carpet-sweeper for quick jobs rather than vacuum.  Move your feet rather than stand still at kitchen jobs, or use a high stool or chair when convenient, to avoid varicose veins.  Carbon-emissions saved by not using electricity.

Exercise while you wait.  Walk and turn while waiting for a bus or train or person, turn and stretch when sitting at a phone. These are times to exercise the neck, feet, leg and arm raising, pelvic-floor contracting, posture correction, correct breathing.

Sing or hum around the house or in the bathroom for morale and good breathing.  Children love to hear you singing, until they are old enough to discriminate.  Dont disturb adults though.

Dance down the passage sometimes.

Creative hobbies for healthy exercise – play music, paint, carpentry, home renovating.

Play with children. Even catching children for bedtime or washing them can be good exercise.

Sleeplessness.   A good time for breathing exercises . . . .  by the time you have breathed deeply to a hundred or so . . .

Don’t use electrical goods that do the job no better than you could get exercise.  Buy the goods you really need to make life easier with the money you save.

Exercise inventions. Here’s an opening for the local bicycle industry. An exercise bike could generate TV power for your home – pedal as you watch, or run a mulch-maker, or . .

One Englishman powers his television with an exercise bike – the children can watch as long as they keep pedalling.

Human energy could generate power for many household tasks, and charge batteries.  Treadmills and all those machines to make you strong or powerful or fast, could all do something useful – turning a compost-cutter, helping to make waste-paper into recycled paper, grinding up stuff, charging batteries.

Loneliness is a major reason why people do not like doing housework.  Have a child or adult friend around, or listen to interesting talks on the radio to ,or even sometimes enjoy the quiet, to think and daydream.

Do men and women need the same sort of exercise?

For hundreds of thousands of years, men have been the exercise freaks, out hunting and fighting and digging and building, muscling their way around, puffing and panting and sprinting away.  Today if modern man does not have regular vigorous exercise, his health deteriorates.

For hundreds of thousands of years, women have worked very hard but at a more regular pace.  They have not needed large-muscle speed and power.  And if they survived child-bearing and resulting disorders, they lived longer.  Today perhaps modern women are still evolved to need that sort of exercise, which most women have had in housework and in the fields.   Perhaps puffing and panting exercises are for male physiology, and  may wear women out sooner.  As, conceivably, the men’s harder, faster life, may actually wear out the healthy male for a shorter life than the conservationist female.   Like that famous jogger, they  may ‘die healthy’.

Formal exercise is unnatural.  That is, understood as formal exercise not contaminated by being useful in any way. I never do any formal exercises. (I’m heading for eighty-six, and last tested bone density was better than my age.)    Instead, I do gardening, walk to the shops with a shopping jeep, do housework – including twin-tub washing machine and outdoor drying, and carpet-sweep the floors

Formal exercise can be a waste of fossil fuels as well as waste of time when people substitute it for doing things for themselves.

Snobbery and exercise

Throughout history, slaves and peasants did the hard work. Useful work was thought undignified.  Indeed, most of it was dreadful toil. The upper classes got their exercises at sports, hunting and gymnasiums.

Chinese mandarins even grew their fingernails about a foot long to prove they did no manual work.

Today machines can do the dreadful toil. Thank goodness.  But should we still be snobs about useful work that is healthy exercise for us?  As well as saving emissions, electricity, oil and money.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: