I hate exercise
Just to be clear, when I say exercise, I mean going to the gym or taking an aerobics class or doing regular repetitive weight routines and keeping track of sets and reps on my scorecard. Think barbells, mats, mirrors, exercise equipment, circuit stations, drippy sweat, sticky seats, empty water bottles, and humid locker rooms.
I hate that kind of exercise.
Oh, it’s not for lack of trying. Over the years I’ve been an active member of Bali Fitness, Club Genesis, Planet Fitness, and the YMCA.
I’d pack up my little duffle bag complete with combination padlock, water bottle, shower stuff, change of clothing and shoes, and ear buds and music source (that’s changed over the years from a cassette players, to CD players, to ipods, etc…), and then I’d drive myself to the exercise joint of the day to do my thing.
The thing was, I felt stupid and out-of-place and fat and unfit (even in my skinny, fit years), sub-standard, and extremely self-conscious in those places. Naturally, I never stuck with it for long.
When the gym didn’t work, I ran.
And I loved running.
To be sure, I dreaded the first mile every single time I went out to run, but once I got that behind me, I felt strong and free. I loved the solitude and the cadence of my feet hitting the pavement, the soothing rhythm of my arm swing and easy, regular breathing. Running made me feel soooooo glad to be alive.
I ran regularly for over 10 years. Then knees and asthma and time and wear-and-tear on my joints made running less joyous. Life got crazy, I started working full time in a sedentary job, gained the mid-life spread, and left running behind. I physically couldn’t do it anymore.
Fast forward fifteen or so years.
Here I am; pumpkin-ish and out of shape. But I’m realizing how important movement is for me in this season (and other approaching seasons) of life. Particularly if I want to be fit and healthy in my later years. At this stage of life, “use it of lose it” is truer than it’s ever been.
If I had my choice, I’d swim. I’m able to swim for hours without rest (even now). But my favorite stroke is the breast stroke, and furominal-stenosis in my C-spine won’t accomdate a breast stroke’s head bob for long periods of time, and my still-original knees (likely to be replaced) don’t like the joint pivot of a frog kick.
Running is completely unrealistic (my creaking knees alone rule that out).
Walking is lovely, but I live out in the country along a dangerous, becoming-ever-more-heavily-trafficked highway with no sidewalks or walking paths. Walking along the highway won’t do me much good if I end up sideswiped by a car going 60 MPH. 😛
My house location also excludes biking for the same reasons it does walking. I don’t want to get run off the road.
And nope, I’m not interested in the gym. (One of the delightful things about middle age is finally feeling free to do what works for me without caring what others think.) I hate the gym; so I’m not going to be a gym rat. So there! 😛
What does that leave me?
Perhaps some kind of aerobic exercise I can do at home, maybe going to a local park to walk their exercise paths, or…
Ahhhhhh. Sweet, heavenly hiking.
I am delighted to report that at least once a month DH are heading to the new property where we can hike with abandon. 😀 😀 😀
The old lumbering road on our mountain has a wonderfully challenging pitch, (you can see some of the incline behind us in this picture), and it provides a super aerobic workout (if you want to call it that).
Hiking for me isn’t really “exercise” as I’ve thought about “exercise” over the years. Hiking is just hiking. It’s something I find immensely pleasurable, relaxing, invigorating, and soul-restoring.
Something that good couldn’t possibly be “exercise,” could it?
For most of my adult life, I’ve viewed exercise as a chore (decidely not fun). It was something I had to fit into my day, that I should do for my health and well-being. Like doing laundry or cleaning toilets, it needed to be done, and I’d do it, but I never really enjoyed it. (Except running.)
Exercise was never that way when I was a girl. Swimming and hiking and galloping like the buckskin mare I pretended to be was simply part of my play-filled summer days. It was fun!
They say the more we age the more childlike we become. I hope that’s true.
It certainly seems so with the way I’m beginning to view exercise.
I’ve had it wrong all these years, and never realized it. That explains why commitment to exercise (except running) never lasted. Exercise doesn’t have to be painstaking or dreary or competitive or even difficult for that matter. It just has to be something that can boost my heart rate and tax my muscles a bit. It can be anything! All I had to do was find an enjoyable activity that got my body moving.
Voila! There it was: hiking!
It’s been there all along. I just never thought of hiking as exercise.
Can something so fun really be exercise? Oh, indeed, it can. And it is. And it’s my chosen method of exercise now as I approach seniordom.
I love hiking; I’m able to hike; it taxes my lungs and muscles enough to provide health benefits, and it’s free. And it can be done most anywhere in most weather conditions.
On the occasions when I can’t hike, however, I’ve found something else that’s goofy and fun and silly but very aerobic: country line dancing. I feel like a complete klutz, but who cares? It’s just l’il ol’ me in front of my video-streaming TV tripping over my own two left feet having a blast while I do so.
Me? Exercise? You betcha!
And I’ll be giggling my way back to health and fitness while I do.
Anyone want to join me?
’til next time,