In his later years, the nineteenth-century Italian composer Rossini loved to work in bed. He had become so lazy, according to some rumors, that if he dropped a sheet of music, he would rewrite the whole page rather than get out of bed and pick it up. Undoubtedly, many people today would give Rossini a good run for his money when it comes to lethargy.
Even though they would like to be fit and trim, inactivity is their forte.
To be sure, everyone wants to be fit and trim; unfortunately, not very many people want to pay the price.
With so many benefits to be reaped from regular exercise, it's a mystery to health professionals why more people aren't physically active.
The correlation between healthy people and regular physical exercise is irrefutable, yet less than 10 percent of American adults exercise vigorously at least three times a week.
As USA TODAY not so long ago reported, "Despite years of study and millions of dollars spent, despite evidence that physical activity is a key to robust health, long life, and good looks, despite all we know about cholesterol and heart disease and diabetes and obesity, the fact remains - we are a nation of sloths!"
As it turns out, the shortcut to being truly fit and trim is long-term vigorous action.
French writer and political theorist Pierre Joseph Proudhon proclaimed, "The chief condition on which, life, health, and vigor depend, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny."
You aren't going to get fit by casually riding a bicycle at five miles an hour or going for a fifteen-minute walk while window-shopping.
A Harvard University study found that only vigorous activity sustained for longer periods will get you fit.
The study, which linked vigorous exercise to longevity, indicated that playing a standard round of golf couldn't be considered a vigorous workout.
Similarly, gardening for half an hour is better than nothing; this won't get you fit, however.
The physical benefit is just that - a little better than nothing!
Here is a warning: Despite its apparent benefits, even brisk walking may be insufficient exercise if you want to live a long life.
Regular brisk walking might keep you limber and make you feel a lot better, but it is unlikely to stave off an early death from heart disease, according to a research study by Queen's University Belfast.
The researchers concluded that regular exercise has profound benefits on health, but that only vigorous exercise - such as jogging, hiking, stair climbing, swimming, playing racquet sports, and heavy digging - seems to make any difference to the risk of premature death from heart disease.
No question - exercising vigorously on a regular basis is not easy. But living in poor physical condition sometime in the future will be much more difficult to contend with than spending an hour or two a day running, walking, cycling, or swimming.
Being overweight and unfit will interfere with your ability to enjoy many great pleasures in life.
It's tough to enjoy or be good at many leisure activities, such as baseball, tennis, hockey, golf, travel, and sex, when you are overweight.
Don't look around for someone to blame if you have gotten terribly out of shape.
Plain and simple, it's your fault for letting yourself go, no matter how many excuses you fabricate.
I have designated the weight and fitness level that I am comfortable with and have worked hard to maintain myself at this level for many years.
Your duty is to do the same if you want to feel good about yourself.
A fit and trim body elicits the respect of others.
More fundamental, no doubt, is that it commands self-respect.
If you are overweight and out of shape, weight loss and fitness won't happen overnight.
You must invest the time and energy in strenuous exercise.
The return on your investment, however, is well worth it.
You will be the person with a spring in your step while other people your age will show their age, or look considerably older than they really are.