Today, I am reflecting on the Marches of my childhood. They featured a particularly poignant time with my Dad. We had a tradition of building a huge box kite out of brown paper and balsa wood sticks, attaching string and a long tail to it, and going to the football field on a windy spring day to launch it into the sky. It soared high for what seemed like eternity. My brother and I ran with it, pulled the string to adjust its course, worked together with my Dad’s coaching and encouragement, and were convinced that if only we had enough string, we could guide it to the moon. My Dad, brother and I played together for hours, and when we reluctantly wound the string back onto the spool and brought the kite back to Earth, we piled into his old pickup truck and headed home, rosy-cheeked and very satisfied. Without a moment’s hesitation, with great anticipation and with tremendous enjoyment, I had exercised for hours! So, as I reflect, I ask myself, “When did exercise quit being fun?”
Like most of you, I am aware that if I don’t use it, I will lose it. I know that the more I do, the more I will continue to be able do. I am aware that the more sedentary I become, the more strength, agility, balance and muscle mass I lose and the more likely I am to gain weight. I am aware of the various types of exercise: aerobic, resistance and flexibility as well as the many benefits of the various types: increase metabolism, reduce disease risk, improve cardio performance, increased calorie burn, preserving tone and building muscle, preserving bone mass, increasing energy and endurance, improving mood, reducing stress, speeding recovery from illness or injury (to name just a few). I understand that integrating all three regularly allows me to continue to live my very best life every day. However, these pragmatic reasons are not always enough to get me off the couch and out the door.
I benefit from willing cohorts who encourage me to go the distance with them. I love to have fun at whatever I do. I delight in feeling good. Going window shopping at a mall with some friends, talking about what we are seeing, being able to make it from the back of the parking lot, through every store, from one end to the other, people watching as we go, is a wonderful start. Walking around the park up the steep hill from my house and spotting wild flowers and animals with the neighbor’s kids is a fun way to add exercise to the day and gives their mom a break as well. Doing my own yardwork and maintaining a small garden and delighting in the results brings a huge smile. What am I saying … exercise is fun!!! I just have to find the joy in it that I felt as a child.
So, I am throwing away the excuses and complaints. I am checking with my doctor on limitations, watching for the caution signals as to when to slow it down or stop, and stepping into a more active phase of life. I know that if I am lying down, I can sit up. If I am sitting up, I can stand. And if I am already standing, I might as well go for a walk. I hope you will join me, as I really like company! As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
I Care, Barb