Let's go Beachwalking!

Abstract: This article describes the pleasures of walking on the beach. Instead of participating in all the organized forms of sport, this article argues that in many respects a quiet walk on the beach is more healthy.

A. Who needs Exercise?

Sport and school go hand in hand. In the classroom children are forced to sit still all day. It is not just that they have to sit on chairs for long periods; they can be punished for moving or making sounds, even for facial expressions deemed unacceptable. At school, children are drilled like soldiers.

The result is a lot of stress; in class children can become ill, irritable and bad-tempered; they can develop problems with their digestive systems and can get nervous break-downs; children simply cannot be kept captive in class for longer than a couple of hours. School's answer is to take breaks at regular intervals. But the symptoms of the classroom syndrome become also manifest outside class, be it in other ways, ranging from hyperactivity to total apathy.

School believes it has to 'compensate' for all this forced silence and immobility in the classroom by sending children to playgrounds and drive them like packs of animals over sport-fields. There, children suddenly start to run, scream, fight, yell at each other and act silly in other kinds of ways, as if this could relieve them of their stress. Sport seems designed with the specific purpose of encouraging this kind of behaviour, while still submitting children to all kinds of rules and discipline. Sport seems designed to compensate for the lack of physical activity in the classroom, in such a way that the authority of the teacher is still enforced upon children.

But, of course, sport does not relieve the tension caused by the discipline of school, in fact it makes things even worse, as it adds more discipline. Neither does sport offer children opportunities for healthy physical development. Quite often, sport results in accidents and many injuries occur almost unnoticed and remain untreated.

B. Is any Exercise healthy?

Today, few people get physically tired from their work. Whenever possible, people remain seated, during work as well as at home. Routine household activities such as cleaning, shopping and preparing meals is what requires most physical effort for most people.

To keep their bodies fit, most people believe they have to take exercises from time to time, such as outdoor sports, gymnastics, jogging or aerobics. But to combine long periods of physical inactivity with short outbursts of physical frenzy is not healthy at all. The sudden stress on muscles, the overheating, the lack of oxygen in the brain and the frequent shocks that have to be absorbed by the spine and the brain can cause more damage than any lack of exercise. In fact, one should doubt the benefits of any exercise, since the very word indicates having the delusion to reach one's limits in the hope to go beyond one's abilities.

C. Instead, what is healthy?

Sport and school go hand in hand. They both are manifestations of an oppressive system. The word physical exercise fits into this system and is put on a pedestal as if everybody needs a daily dosage.

But a natural lifestyle does not need to be complemented by any such exercise. Children will naturally seek movement if their muscles get stiff - just like people naturally stretch out when stepping out of bed. Children are well capable of feeling any need to eat, drink, move, rest or sleep. It is school that suppresses the innate drive to look after one's health. Children who can seek their own activities in and around the house only need some guidance to stay fit, they do not need any fanatic drills.

Walking is one of the most healthiest activities and it can be enjoyed by people from different ages and with different levels of fitness. Kids who have a lot of energy will typically run around those who take a slower pace. And what better place to go than the beach? The sand forms a natural shoe around the feet, absorbing shocks better than most shoes. Walking in the surf is a delight! The fresh air from the sea is a cure. The sound of the surf is relaxing. What is healthier than to feel the salt water around one's feet? Let's go beachwalking!

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