An awful lot of people out there seem to take great joy in deriding the efforts of those who work hard to get or stay in shape. They're the people who will mock your midafternoon snack of an apple and carrots while they eat a couple of doughnuts, laugh at the fact that you get up early to run before work, or dismiss you as a musclehead if you like to lift weights.
But my all-time favorite refrain from such people is: "Keith Richards is still alive, Jim Fixx isn't."
Monday was the 25th anniversary of the death of Jim Fixx, who has been credited with starting the running and jogging craze in the 1970s with the publication of his best-seller The Complete Book of Running. According to Wikipedia, Fixx weighed 240 pounds and smoked when he began running at age 35. Ten years later, he weighed 180 and no longer smoked.
Fixx died at 52 of a massive heart attack after his daily run near his home in Vermont.
That his death would give fodder to those who make no effort to improve their own health is sad, but entirely understandable. I suppose all of us are constantly on the lookout, either consciously or unconsciously, for evidence that supports our beliefs.
But in using the death of athletes such as Fixx to sustain their own inaction, people are overlooking quality-of-life issues.
I've known people who would scornfully dismiss exercise, but then couldn't walk ten steps without sounding like they needed oxygen. Maybe they were perfectly happy in that state, but I have to think they could have been happier, and certainly healthier, with a little effort.
And it's true, they could well outlive me, because so much of our health is determined by genetic factors. Fixx's father, for instance, had died of a heart attack at age 42.
I'd just like to ask you exercise critics out there to do me a favor and stop making ridiculous comments in an effort to belittle my healthy habits or justify your unhealthy ways.
If anyone really believed that Keith Richards had the answer to health and longevity, by now we certainly would have seen a best-seller on the shelves touting the benefits of an alcohol and heroin diet.