Tag Archives: walking

Expectations

I took a lunchtime walk yesterday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as I usually do during the workweek.  The day was moderately sunny, although it had begun rather cloudy and certainly cold-a chilly 6 degrees Fahrenheit at my house.  It was around 30 degrees at noon.

I started out bundled up with my heavy winter coat, knit cap, and wool mittens.  I usually shoot for a 30 minute walk.  By the time I was five minutes in I had to remove my cap because I was heating up.  By the time I reached the half way mark, I had also removed my mittens, and shortly thereafter I had unzipped my coat.  I actually had worked up a light sweat by the time I got back.

Here’s the thing:  I had prepared myself for my noon walk based upon expectations I formed at 6:30 in the morning regarding the temperature.  What I should have done was check my smartphone for updated weather information prior to my walk,  instead of relying on outdated expectations.  As it turns out this principle applies to a lot of things in life: make decisions based upon reality not preconceptions.

A hand holding a thermometer in front of some icicles.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Or, is it?

Why Age Gracefully?

Having recently turned 52, my attention has lately been focused on aging and related health and fitness issues. In fact at a friend’s suggestion I started a new Facebook page on the subject, Post 50 Fitness. And yes, that was a shameless plug.

What’s odd to me is that I never really thought of myself as being old.   i still don’t!  Certainly, there have been days when I have had to deal with arthritic knees or more recently gout (hopefully my one and only time!)  but those were in the same pile of issues in my mind as allergies, stepping on a nail (not so hypothetical)  or the flu. They were just things that happened.  I dealt with them, and moved on.

I’ve read about some amazing people in my research, including runners in their 80s, swimmers in their 70s, surfers in their 60s, and lots of “vintage people” who just plain decided to get on with the business of living despite, or in spite of, their ages. On the other hand, I see people all around who view getting older as an excuse for not even trying.  I just don’t see why we’ve come to view getting older as a disability.   It should be the opposite, since we should have had time enough to accumulate some wisdom and to figure out that being old isn’t the same thing as being finished!

Admittedly, there are geriatric issues for some, but most people can at least get out and walk!  There also are specialized aquatics and stretching programs for seniors.  If you start taking care of yourself in your 50s (or 40s, or earlier) and stick with it many of the ailments we associate with aging can be delayed or altogether prevented.  The benefits of regular exercise are not only improved physical health but improved mental health as well, such as slowing or preventing dementia.  How much more incentive do we need as a culture to tear down our misconceptions on aging?

Age gracefully? Heck no, I’m going kicking and screaming every step of the way!

A cool looking older man stands near the ocean, his surfboard under his arm.

It’s never too late to get fit!

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

Sometimes it is easier to focus on the big ticket calorie burners and to overlook activities which burn fewer calories.  The problem in doing so is that you don’t take cumulative impact into consideration.  A lot of little things added together can make a big difference. (I’m reminded of a song by Peter, Paul, and Mary that goes “Inch by inch, row by row, going to make this garden grow”.)  I offer for your consideration the following little things you can do, good for about 200 calories each.  Pick a few and make your own cumulative impact, or add some of your own devising.

  • Turn the stereo up loud and dance for 30 minutes.  Dance with one or more friends if possible, or solo if you have to, but dance!
  • Challenge a friend to a game of badminton and bring your “A game” for at least 40 minutes.
  • Spend an hour at a driving range, smacking the daylights out of a few buckets of balls.
  • Go for a 30 minute bike ride, but avoid coasting as much as possible by staying in an appropriate gear.
  • Take an hour some afternoon and mow, rake, prune, and mulch your yard. (Using a riding lawnmower doesn’t count!)
  • Spend about 40 minutes and thoroughly wash, dry, wax, and buff your car.  “Wax on, wax off”!
  • Jog for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After 10 minutes, do a 180 and run hard for two minutes. Rest for 30 seconds. “Rinse and repeat” four more times.

OK, by now you can see the trend. Everyday activities and slightly unusual athletics can in fact burn calories. You may not burn 800 in one session, but 4 sessions at 200 calories each is still…800! I don’t know about you, but I love this kind of math!

Feeling Groovy!

I was listening to a story on the radio this morning about the runner’s high phenomenon. According to the reporter, there’s a growing opinion in certain circles that the runner’s high is a survival mechanism.  Apparently, the theory is that as humans and other mammals became good at distance running, we developed the ability to produce endorphins in greater quantities.  Thus, being good at running down prey was rewarded not only with a meal, but with pleasant feelings while working hard.  It’s an interesting theory, and I can see how it might very well be true.

But it may not matter so much to us now.  As a young lady said when interviewed in the story, sometimes it’s just nice to get out, get moving, and feel good.  Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a lot of stalking skills to capture a can of beans at the supermarket.  Any survival advantage that the increased endorphins created, has by and large been made superfluous by our modern lifestyles.

So what are we to do with this ability?  Run, walk, lift, swim, play.  It’s all good, and it all makes us feel good! I know that I’ve come to look forward to my daily workouts (well, six days per week).  I think that in part it’s because I’m experiencing a bit of the runner’s high.  You know what?  I’m cool with anything that encourages people to exercise. I also know that when I miss more than one day, I get all grumpy and feel funky.  There is more than a slight resemblance to withdrawal symptoms, from my non-medically trained perspective.

Then again, maybe I’m just a workout junkie and what do I know?  😉

A man running into the sunset.

Sometimes it's just nice to get out, get moving, and feel good.

Excuses Accomplish Nothing

“Do or do not. There is no try.” That’s what Yoda told Luke Skywalker on Dagobah when Luke gave into defeat and despair. Does that seem harsh? Maybe. Is it true? Absolutely. When I talk to folks about my fitness journey, I often hear them say stuff like “Wow. I wish I could do that!” So I tell them they can, and offer to show them how.

That’s when the excuses start rolling out.

I don’t want to hear excuses. I have heard most of them. Heck, in the past I used most of them!

  • “I’m too old to start exercising.” Road apples! I started a few days after my 50th birthday-not exactly spring chicken territory.
  • “My affliction prevents me from exercising.” No it doesn’t unless you’re bed ridden. I have osteoarthritis in both knees and one hip, and I still bring it six days a week.
  • “I weigh too much to go to a gym. They will make fun of me.” OK, first, if someone at a gym criticizes another for trying to better themselves, they are indeed petty and do not deserve your attention. Second, all my progress has been made in my own home with Beachbody workouts.
  • “I can’t afford to join a gym or buy workout DVDs.” Nonsense unless you are truly destitute. Beachbody has several very good programs for $20 to $60. Any big box store has inexpensive exercise DVDs as well, albeit of lesser quality. At the very least, walking, jogging, situps, pushups, jumping jacks, and crunches don’t cost a penny.
  • “I don’t have the time for it.” Oh come on! How many hours a day are spent by most Americans watching TV? A decent workout can be done in the time it would take to watch a rerun of “I Love Lucy” or some vacuous reality show. It’s a matter of priorities.

Look, I’m not Superman and I’m certainly not perfect. Yet, if I can do it, so can you! The fact remains that the only thing that will be accomplished by making excuses is…nothing. Are you willing to settle for that?