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Finding The Motivation For Exercise In History

I have always been interested in history and because I am an American, U.S. History tops my list. When I decided to write a paper about the late Franklin D. Roosevelt in college, I knew I was in for it. Not only was he one of the most famous and easily recognizable U.S. Presidents, but he had a very complicated public and private life. When he appeared before the public Roosevelt had to be a tower of strength and a leader with unquestionable authority, but privately he was a man with a major disability.

In 1921 Roosevelt fell ill with what was eventually diagnosed as polio. At the age of 39 the once active swimmer, runner and a man interested in athletics suddenly found himself paralyzed from the waist down. That did not stop Franklin Roosevelt from becoming the Governor of New York in 1929. It also did not stop him from running for and being elected to the U.S. Presidency in 1932. All along the way Roosevelt had to endure great pain as he wore specially designed braces which allowed him to stand up in public.

Franklin Roosevelt always believed in physical fitness. Even after he was paralyzed from the waist down, Roosevelt did various arm strength workouts in order to maintain his ability to remain fit and use his upper arm strength to appear to walk as he motioned back and forth using his braces to move forward. In 1933 a heated indoor swimming pool was built in the west terrace of The White House for Roosevelt's poliomyelitis therapy. He used the pool on an almost daily basis and did what swimming exercises he could for as long as his health allowed.

One of the most heroic things that President Franklin Roosevelt ever did was walk into the chamber of the U.S. Congress of December 8, 1944 at around 12:30pm to declare war on Japan the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Witnesses and press reports said that the president endured horrific pain and dug down into the depths of his soul to find the energy and strength needed to walk all the way from the entrance to the Speakerís Platform. He did this to show the world that like America, he was up to the challenge which had been thrown at our nation the day before.

It makes me sad to think that people often excuse themselves from daily exercise for the silliest reasons, when a man who was partially paralyzed and had so many issues to deal with each day in his professional and private life managed to fit in a workout no matter what. It is easy for many of us to take a walk around the block or a quick dip in the pool at our local fitness center, but we find excuses to avoid those activities. In my mind it is just as important for every one of us to appear strong for ourselves, our families and our jobs as it was for Franklin Roosevelt to do so when he faced all those challenges.

Roosevelt provided an excellent example and the motivation for us to fit daily exercise and workouts into our lives. His life reminds us that the biggest obstacle we face and the greatest handicap we all have is a lack of commitment to excellence and an inability to overcome the excuses that keep us from accomplishing our goals. I can just imagine how President Roosevelt felt the day after Pearl Harbor when a big chunk of the world was enslaved by dictators and others loyal to Fascism and Imperialism. He was the elected President of the only nation that could lead the world out of that darkness, and the man could not even walk without braces. If that does not motivate you to get out and exercise, I donít suppose that anything will.


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