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The Mahatma on Exercising

By Rajesh C. Oza Email By Rajesh C. Oza
June 2013
The Mahatma on Exercising

with PostModern Gandhiji (PMG)

An advice column offering the Mahatma’s perspective on modern dilemmas


Dear PMG,

Everyone at home is a fanatic about working out: Papa runs marathons; Mom does Pilates; my older brother lifts weights and is on the basketball team; and my younger sister will do most anything—from yoga to Zoomba—to keep her body fit.

I live in the midst of a “workout world.” I don’t know a single soul like myself, someone who has no interest in exercise or sports. A self-professed bookworm, I enjoy reading and writing, and am happiest when holed up in a library all day and night.

I can’t imagine that Mahatma Gandhi wasted his time on jogging or fun and games.

Dear Friend,

“I never took part in any exercise, cricket or football, before they were made compulsory. My shyness was one of the reasons for this aloofness, which I now see was wrong. I then had the false notion that gymnastics had nothing to do with education. Today I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.

I may mention, however, that … I had formed a habit of taking walks, which has still remained with me. These walks gave me a fairly hardy constitution.” (M. K. Gandhi)

Some people see sports as a frivolous waste of time. But your suggestion of a complete boycott of anything physical is a greater folly. Not only does exercise create a fit body, fueling it as much, if not more, than good food, it also fuels the mind. Leave aside scientific studies that demonstrate that memory remains much more elastic for the elderly who have consistently exercised, it does not take a scientist to recognize the benefits of movement. The simple act of walking is powerful. It awakens senses that no book can. While walking you are alive to the wonders of the world—smells, sounds, sights—that would be dead in a closed-off library. You are also open to other human beings, either in the serendipitous bumping into someone on the sidewalk or the joyful walking with a companion.

Indeed, human bonding is one of the most important aspects of sport. True, we madly compete against each other, but in the same moment, we learn to collaborate with teammates, moving in unison toward a desired goal.

Lastly, had Gandhiji just studied the laws of the Salt Tax in a library and never moved against it, we would never have had one of the most famous walks the world has known: the Salt March to Dandi.

[Dr. Rajesh C. Oza serves as a consultant to organizations and individuals requiring change leadership. We invite questions for consideration in the PMG column at raj.oza@sbcglobal.net.]


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