Great article Dave.
Ben, I couldn't agree more that doing something that you enjoy and are passionate about is key to staying in shape. I also think that integrating exercise into your daily life is a great way to keep solid physical base-shape. I read an article a few years back that looked at communities around the world that had the longest life expectancies, and one thing all of these communities had in common was that their day-to-day lives included lots of 'chores' that kept them in shape. And if I remember correctly, the respondents in these communities DID NOT go to the gym or 'train' to stay healthy. Many indicated they'd never even been to a gym.
I'd say we are lucky, but my girlfriend and I made a concious choice to live out in a small cabin with few amenities. It's allowed us to live simpler lives, but it's also kept us in great shape because our chores provide us with regular workouts.
Heating with wood means I'm busy year round bucking, hauling, and stacking wood. Over the winter I usually dedicate 2-3 hrs per week splitting wood and stacking it. In summer, rather than pay good money for a pump to water our garden beds, I walk down to the lake each morning and fill 2 5-gallon buckets and walk it uphill. And whenever possible, we add other tasks to our routine that we can do by hand rather than mechanization. It often saves money too!
All of these day-to-day chores are ingrained in our routine, and we do them without second thought (mostly because we have to), but it definitely keeps us in better health than we would be otherwise.
And having a dog ensures that we are out walking on our local trails at least 30-45 minutes per day. To keep it fun we mix up running, walking/hiking, bikjoring, and skijoring/snowshoeing in the winter. Never have I been in better shape since getting a dog!
Obviously, folks living in urban centres might have to search a little harder than us to find exercise in their daily routines, but it's not impossible. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, riding your bike/running/walking to work everyday, staying on top of yard work, DIY projects that involve you doing the work yourself rather than paying someone to do it for you. These are all things that can keep you in good base-shape, and with time become just another part of your life.
That's not to say that training isn't important. But to avoid that diet-like approach to training (work hard for a specific goal, then crash and burn on the couch) I think the key is both doing things you love to do, and integrating exercise into your daily life. Add to that a good training regiment to meet specific goals, and it's icing on the cake.
Speaking of which, I'd better get training. Summer is coming up quickly...