Commentary: The ups and downs of idling your time away

There’s no feeling greater than the burn in your muscles after a good workout. Practicing, or if you don’t do any sport in particular, just exercising in general, leaves you feeling beat down but accomplished, and it’s that sense of achievement and self-betterment that keeps pushing us forward. Personally, as a swimmer, I can’t go more than a day or two without wanting — no, needing — to get in the water and work out. But it isn’t always that way.

If I’m in a groove, a day without working out makes me feel gross and sluggish, almost lethargic. Instead of having too much energy, I have even less, and there’s nothing more that I want than to go exercise. But the more time I take off, the more I realize how wonderful it feels to be lazy, to just sit around and relax, to sleep instead of swim, to lie around instead of lift. It’s a leisurely lifestyle to fall into, but an evil one.

There are those lucky folks who take a lot longer to get out of shape and, likewise, get into shape a lot quicker than others. If you’re one of those people, you can put this down and go revel in your talent and good fortune. If you’re not, though, laziness is like Calypso — a tempting seductress who can lead you far astray from your mission of being in shape and not having a gut. Unfortunately, the similes end there; there is no Zeus or Hermes to free you from, said Calypso. Only you can free yourself.

I’ll be the first to admit it — sitting around on my butt doing nothing but napping and eating (and working, I guess) is a fantastic feeling. In the off season of my first year, I chose not to work out as much and instead spent my free time sleeping, surfing the Internet, and doing other enjoyable but idle activities. This newfound freedom from swimming was originally supposed to give me more time to focus on school and work harder, but it hardly made a difference. It might have even made things worse, because more free time meant more procrastination time. Rather than work, I got to watch almost every Mets game in its entirety during those months, since I wouldn’t ever have any other time commitments. I spent a lot of time working on my fantasy baseball team. I beat Pokémon Crystal at least three times over. But the accomplishment that I felt after doing that didn’t really do much for me, and when I finally got back in the water over the summer to get back in shape, I severely regretted having taken so much time off. I remembered how great it felt to be beat down, and how much happier I felt about myself.

This happiness is caused by endorphins, which give people a sense of well-being and power over themselves. One of the best ways to get an endorphin rush is through exercising, which explains why we naturally feel so much better about ourselves after a workout than after lounging around all day. But there’s more to it than just that, in my opinion. There is a much greater sense of accomplishment associated with improving in a sport than there is with getting back in shape, and there seems to me to be a pretty linear accomplishment-endorphins ratio.

Still, being lazy is a very lucrative option — it’s really up to the individual which path they take to enjoy their time. And as much as I love working out, I sure as heck plan to utilize my laziness quota once my senior season is over. Besides, Pokémon Platinum just came out this year.