Why is exercise used as punishment?Exercise is seen as a means of making people fit, healthy, and well.  It is fundamentally a good thing used to benefit the body and the mind. However, in our...

Why is exercise used as punishment?

Exercise is seen as a means of making people fit, healthy, and well.  It is fundamentally a good thing used to benefit the body and the mind.

However, in our society, exercise is very often used as punishment.  Football coaches force players to run wind sprints, perform gut-bursting sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, and a variety of other grueling calisthenics.  If exercise is supposed to be rewarding, how--and why--is it used as punishment?  When, where, and how did the notion come about in our society that something "good" like exercise should be exposed to punish disobedient people?

In fact, what is the punishment in forcing someone to do 100 crunches?  Since when is forcing someone to be fit and healthy a punishment? Why do coaches use it as a punishment?  Doesn't this send the wrong message--doesn't it make the person being punished HATE exercise?

If you could please write a response about the notion IN OUR SOCIETYof physical exercise (sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, wind sprints, crunches, squat thrusts, burpees, etc.) as punishment, I would appreciate it.

Thank you for your time

11 Answers | Add Yours

teacher2011's profile pic

teacher2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Exercise is often a painfully difficult task to complete. However, exercise ultimately yields positive results for the health of the one doing the exercise. The one ordering the exercise has the satisfaction of knowing he or she is making the recipient of the order to suffer an undesirable consequence while at the same time knowing that he or she is helping the recipient in the long haul.

geosc's profile pic

geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Every one of the people that I can think of who might be in a position to assign exercise as punishment, are in the business of improving the people to whom they would assign the punishment.  Those people who might assign exercise as punishment, include, military and naval drill instructors, school PE teachers, sports coaches.  They chose this form of punishment rather than suspension or incarceration, because it is more beneficial, and because they are in the business of benefitting the recruits, students, team-members.  I went through boot camp where exercise is a daily form of punishment, as well as a routine daily form of conditioning when no punishment is intended.  That did not, so far as I can tell, set me on the wrong path or send me the wrong message or influence whether I performed exercise in subsequent life.  Why do you want to separate punishment from benefit?  All punishment is intended either to improve the punishee or to separate him or her from those he or she may hurt (among other reasons).  Why not exercise as both punishment and benefit.  Why don't you talk to some boot camp graduate, some football team players, and the like who have first hand knowledge.  Why would one object to a form of punishment that is rewarding and beneficial?  Must all punishment be harmful only?  I think the notion in our society is rehabilitation and improvement of wrong-doers whether they be violators of the order not to talk in formation, or violent criminals.  Why should punishment be only hurtful, harmful, painful, without benefit?

booksnmore's profile pic

booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I suppose a coach could argue that if s/he needs to punish a player, s/he might as well punish the player in a way that benefits the team. If the exercise makes the player stronger/more conditioned it has the potential to help the team in the long run.

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Exercise is directly related to stress hormones. Perhaps a student exhibited negative behavior because they are stressed out about something or they cannot concentrate. Coaches will often use exercise as a means to get them to be more relaxed and able to focus on the task at hand.

Exercise also releases endorphins. When endorphins are released, the body naturally feels more happy and peaceful. Whether or not it was used as a punishment there is often a sense of accomplishment following a good workout.

Exercise is also a distraction. Maybe the student was generally having a bad day for some reason. Exercise will get their mind off negative thoughts.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As someone who has coached high school sports, I have two answers for why this is.  I should say, first of all, that I think many coaches are simply sadistic and think that it is physical punishment like that is good for the players.  Here were my reasons for using running, etc as "punishment."

  1. What else are you going to do that is a moderate punishment?  Your only real choices are to make someone run, etc or to sit them out of a game.  Sitting them out of a game is pretty darn drastic.  And it's ineffective if they don't play much anyway.  Finally, it can punish a whole team for the sins of one player.  If the "crime" were bad enough, I'd sit someone.  But for slacking a bit or something like that, what do you do?
  2. At times, we do drills and the losers run or something like that.  I do that to try to simulate game conditions.  I want there to be some amount of tension and worry as you perform the drill.  In a real game, you screw up, lose, feel terrible.  If there is no consequence for screwing up in a drill, it is too easy to slack off and not try hard.
pmv51266's profile pic

pmv51266 | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Exercise as punishment has been a practiced by some people for its dimmed purpose; which creates a great difference or opposite meaning to individuals understanding that it will lead us physically fit and develop mental alertness.  

The only way it will look and sound constructive in it is that the manner in the way they imposed punishable act; which are the bodily activities performed as the way they do "exercise", but it is beyond individuals tolerable level, in order to feel very unpleasant, undesirable, traumatic, very painful and unbearable resulting to even death. Therefore it is purely punishment, not anymore physical fitness. It sounds and looks like constructive because of the word "exercise", and using this form of act as facade and cover-up from somebody who imposed this practiced, in a way that it is constructive, and beneficial but actually way the opposite.

It slowly adapt in some society as part of their cultural identity. There are institutions, particularly in schools performing such physical activities by teachers disregarding the knowledge of student's tolerability, or even disability.

It is not about the word "exercise" alone that we understand wether "good" or "bad" in the perception of each individual, but it is how a person imposed this exercise activity in the combination to its purpose as punishment; which made it a misleading towards youngsters who have experienced it.

enoteshmalik's profile pic

enoteshmalik | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

what i think is that Exercise is not always used as punishment because they may be some exercises with use our less exersion and some exercise, may be we enjoy them doing like Jogging,Pushups and etc ... :s

nerdinstudio's profile pic

nerdinstudio | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

I have yet to hear from someone who can give a real, reasoned argument (with examples and/or analysis) about how forced exercise will NOT send the wrong message.

For those visiting the discussion now, I want to type the following text into your browser: www.nospank.net/exercz.htm.  After reading the links, tell me: Is this all a lie, or is there a thread of reasoning that no one has yet come up to justify the use of exercise as punishment? 

Let me if you can come up with such reasoning by posting a comment on the Discussion Board. I will be checking this Discussion regularly.

nerdinstudio's profile pic

nerdinstudio | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

Purpose of punishment is not necessarily to hurt. Punishments also serve a very important purpose of helping a person to improve. When we realize this, there is no incongruity in exercise being used as punishment as well as a means of improving health.

The value of punishment in lies in motivating people to activities that benefit them only in long term. It is normal human tendency to be motivated more towards goals that offer immediate gratification in comparison to goals that offer rewards only in long term and that too after putting in a lot of efforts. For example, a person suffering from diabetes controls is desire to eat sweets reasonably well most of the time, but the suddenly he finds within easy reach his favourite sweet and then it becomes impossible for him or her to resist it. A person place in this situation may punish himself by resolving to forgo completely his next meal. IN this way he is teaching himself to not to submit to sudden impulse of eating his favourite sweet dish.

In similar fashion the immediate effort and pain involved in exercise undergone as a punishment may induce a person to improve behavior in a particular way. Of course if such punishment is administered wisely, it may have the added advantage of contributing to fitness of the person.

YOU STILL DID NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION THAT I ASKED!

I have no doubt that using exercise as punishment may contribute to a person's fitness. What I do have a doubt about is this: Will forced exercise send the message that exercise is inherently punishment? IF it does, then it is counterproductive: A person who sees exercise as punishment will be less likely to do it of his own accord, thereby compromising his health. Let me give you an example.  Say you are a football player who is caught by the coach doing something wrong. As punishment, the coach makes the entire team stay after practice and do 300 sit-ups (or whatever exercise: the exact activity is not important). As a result of this, you will have a team very, very angry at you for ruining their day, you will be humiliated, and--on top of everything--you will go home with some pretty sore abdominals. This is a very unpleasant experience. Don't you think that a person who underwent such an unpleasant experience might change his opinion about exercise? Don't you think that when something is used to punish a person, he will begin to hate the thing with which he was punished?  The very fact that exercise is used as punishment reinforces that tehre is a painful aspect to it; reinforcing that will only make the player hate it.  To those who wrote that using exercise as punishment is "beneficial" to the punishee, I say that there is no benefit in hating exercise.

(comments continued below)

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Purpose of punishment is not necessarily to hurt. Punishments also serve a very important purpose of helping a person to improve. When we realize this, there is no incongruity in exercise being used as punishment as well as a means of improving health.

The value of punishment in lies in motivating people to activities that benefit them only in long term. It is normal human tendency to be motivated more towards goals that offer immediate gratification in comparison to goals that offer rewards only in long term and that too after putting in a lot of efforts. For example, a person suffering from diabetes controls is desire to eat sweets reasonably well most of the time, but the suddenly he finds within easy reach his favourite sweet and then it becomes impossible for him or her to resist it. A person place in this situation may punish himself by resolving to forgo completely his next meal. IN this way he is teaching himself to not to submit to sudden impulse of eating his favourite sweet dish.

In similar fashion the immediate effort and pain involved in exercise undergone as a punishment may induce a person to improve behavior in a particular way. Of course if such punishment is administered wisely, it may have the added advantage of contributing to fitness of the person.

nerdinstudio's profile pic

nerdinstudio | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

I suppose a coach could argue that if s/he needs to punish a player, s/he might as well punish the player in a way that benefits the team. If the exercise makes the player stronger/more conditioned it has the potential to help the team in the long run.

You still didn't answer the question.  Is exercise punishment, or is it beneficial?

We as a society have to decide whether exercise is something used to advance ourselves and make ourselves feel better, or the contrary. 

All the people who replied to my question so far have provided excuses; but they have not answered the real question.

 

Further, forced exercise sends the WRONG message: do we want kids to think of exercise as punishment at a time when obesity rates are in the 30%-range?  If they think of exercise as punishment, they will do it only when forced--and never when they become adults.  In the end, using exercise as punishment may be hurting people more than it helps them--setting them on the wrong path and not on the right one--by sending the wrong message.

We’ve answered 318,945 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question