The Concept of Exercise

In my village, I go for morning runs or walks, my daily dose of exercise. However, my conservative Muslim villagers frown on females exercising outside; they tell me I attract attention to myself and that it's mamnoo-a (culturally unacceptable) for females to exercise in public. Even gyms in Amman have special female hours: women can only use the gym facilities during their designated times.
Well, if my daddy taught me one thing, it's to stay in good health and get that heart pumping some fresh blood. In my village, the only access to exercise I have are the tomato farms (my running track) and my living room (jump-rope and stretching/lunges arena). I dress appropriately whenever I go for walks in the tomato fields, and even in 100-plus weather, I still wear long pants and long sleeves when I run in the summer mornings. I take it to a further degree and make a conscious effort to time my walks and runs when the minimum amount of people are roaming outside…meaning that I'm one of the first people in my village up at 5:30 a.m. every morning. Inevitably, shepherds and farmers spot me, and sometimes I do get chased by the wild dog packs (but I've quickly learned that a rock deters them).
When I jump rope in my living room, I keep my curtains closed, but sometimes I still get doorbell rings in the middle of my set. Once, my neighbor exclaimed, "I heard some whipping! Is everything OK?"
My neighbors are still baffled as to why I insist on "doing sport." I've explained countless times to them that "it's good for my health and it keeps me happy." Once, a neighbor described to me how she gets her daily exercise: by chasing her kids, cooking, and cleaning. Even better, another woman explained that she stays fit by praying to Allah; her prayers five times a day involve kneeling, stretching her back, and rotating her neck. No exaggeration.
But perhaps the best story comes from a village woman who genuinely wanted to start exercising with me in the morning, but her mish-ki-let galb (heart problem) prevented her from doing strenuous activity.
Her: "I have a heart problem, so I can't do sport."
Me: "Have you seen the doctor? Is it serious?"
Her: "I haven't gone to the doctor yet. I'm afraid he will say I need surgery."
Me: "What's the problem?"
Her: "Every time I walk up stairs or walk for longer than five minutes, my heart goes like this: (placing her hand over her heart, she starts beating her palm against her chest rapidly) 'boom, boom, boom.' What does this mean?"

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