The Corner

Politics & Policy

In Defense of Treadmills

A man jogs on a treadmill inside the Milan Gale Muskatirovic Sports Centre in Belgrade, Serbia, July 22, 2019. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

At a White House press conference yesterday, New York Times reporter Michael Shear was describing supply-chain problems that have affected international trade of late. He said that “people couldn’t get dishwashers, and furniture, and treadmills delivered on time, not to mention all sorts of other things.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to this by smiling and then snarking about “the tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed.”

I will pass by the casual dismissal of serious economic problems that is becoming a hallmark of both the Biden administration and its media defenders. I will instead put a word in for treadmills, which I have used many times in my years as a runner. For it is not only the case that it is reasonable on the part of consumers to receive the goods they purchase in a timely fashion. That is true of just about anything.

The treadmill is a special case. As a facilitator of exercise, a treadmill is a good of a higher order. People purchase a treadmill, presumably, to get in or to stay in shape. To the extent such a purchase is driven by either or both of these desires, it is commendable. Coronavirus lockdowns dramatically circumscribed the scope for physical activity, and even more people than were prevented from doing the things they wanted to, such as going to (closed) gyms, took the signal from those actions that inactivity was to be encouraged. As a result, many Americans gained weight, which made them likelier to suffer seriously from coronavirus — the disease the lockdowns were intended to mitigate. This was true of children as well. Many Americans also took up more vices during the period. Those who had a treadmill during this time — and used it — may have done themselves much good. Those trying to get one now are setting themselves up for similar potential benefits.

All of which is to say that, yes, a delayed treadmill delivery is an unfortunate thing. The fact of its delay shouldn’t be an object of snark. And the underlying impulse of self-improvement behind the purchase of a treadmill is worthy of praise, not of mockery.


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