Like everyone else, I know it’s a good idea to stay active, but it’s hard for me. I’d rather find a book and read. Or sit at my computer desk and write. While those things may make my mind stronger and fitter, it doesn’t nothing for the rest of me.
I’m not the athletic type so working out has never appealed to me unless it included an element of fun. I don’t like to sweat doing drudgery. I need to enjoy it. Finding just the right activity has morphed over time.
For a number of years, I got fit with clogging. After the kids went to school, I’d spent 45 minutes dancing to music. By the time I was through, I’d be soaked in sweat and breathing hard. Great workout dancing is.
As I got older and heavier, clogging went away, and I eventually got into walking in the woods with my job as archeological technician. We were out in the field walking for 8 hours a day. I was in the best shape of my life, although I must admit somedays at the beginning of field season, I cried my eyes out while walking and whisper-shouting how much I hated my job. By the end of the field season, it wasn’t bad, but the first part was pure torture for me. Up and down hills and cliffs, through thickets and lightning storms we walked while looking at the ground. I was tougher then, but still looked forward to the first snow so I could stay in the office.
I tried bicycling, and it was fun for a few years. We lived close to bike trails that made it easy to get out on them. It was always horrible struggle to get into shape. (Don’t lecture me about how it’s easier to stay in shape than to get back in it. I know, I know.) I was always relieved when first snow came, and I didn’t have to ride the bike for a long time. My longest bike ride was 45 miles. By the time I got off the bike, I really didn’t want to get back on it. I continued to ride for a while, but my balance was not what it used to be. The last time I rode, I wrecked bad, and it hurt quite a bit. That took away any pleasure I had in it and replaced it with fear of really hurting myself.
I’ve tried hiking and walking. I’d love to do more of it, but back problems make it a very painful activity. Plus, if it’s too warm, like anything above 85, I get too hot. After several episodes of heat exhaustion, I can’t handle hot weather at all. My walking is restricted to malls which is very hazardous and painful to my checkbook.
I recently discovered the answer for staying active at this point in my life. I joined the local aquatic center, and I do laps in a chest-deep pool with a bunch of other elderly ladies. It’s fun and it doesn’t hurt. What more could I ask for? They call it circuit walking. There’s a “lazy river” type channel that we walk around either with the current or upstream. Thirty-six times around is a mile which takes me about thirty-six minutes, depending on how many are doing laps with me. I go during the day so there are no kids, just us old folks. Some are friendly; most are intent on working out. I don’t mind having time with just my thoughts as I make my way through the water. It allows time to plot or replot my stories and imagine new ones. Pairing that with getting exercise makes it time well spent.
Staying active is important whether you like to do it or not. Just find what works for you and do it.