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October 05, 2009


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Nice piece.

For me, sporting competition provides the essential motivation to stay healthy, which is in turn fundamental to your welfare personally, professionally and socially. It's necessary because 'keeping fit' is a fairly empty goal in itself that doesn't yield any real sense of achievement beyond occasionally realising you feel good. It isn't compelling when it's snowing or you have a hangover. Competition demands commitment, introduces purpose, measurement, interim goals, and unlocks the potential for a sense of achievement, as well as a fear of failure. All this motivates you to improve, rather than merely plod along, so that 'keeping fit' becomes a given rather than a goal in itself.

While there's an opportunity cost to the time invested, that time yields a dividend in terms of improved health and relationships. Of course, there's a law of diminishing marginal returns, and you need to take care of your knees ;-)

Bruce Davis

I can see that competition can provide incentives (especially the fear of being overtaken by an octogenarian olympian) but the success of sites like Nike Plus and Concept 2's online rankings shift the competition into a more collective sense of effort. It is perhaps why you get hotspots of physical activity in certain localities, it not just the environment (or lack of it) but also the nudging of examples of real people getting out there and doing it?

Also this obsession with sport being linked to 'getting thin' seems counter productive - leave that to the lightweights! (Motto Train more, eat less).

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