Sunday, March 18, 2012
Blustery weather and exercise
Before I moved here, I owned one raincoat, but now I have three, along with rain pants, a rain poncho, and three different sets of gaiters. My hiking boots are waterproof. These all help me to be out in the weather. If I were waiting for the rain to stop, I wouldn't be leaving my house much. I'm sure that many of you wouldn't be very happy living here; some people require much more sunshine that I do or depression sets in. I've read that exercise helps, but one needs to be motivated to be out in inclement weather. Where does my own motivation come from, I wonder?
Everybody is different. That's part of what makes life interesting, but since everything you read says that getting a certain amount of exercise is important to be healthy, finding my own style was important. I realize that I am a social exerciser: I need company to motivate me. At the gym, I take a class along with twenty other people, jumping around to the music to get my heart rate up. Being one of the regulars, I have a spot in the room that I gravitate toward and if for some reason I move to another place in the room, the instructor will notice and comment on it. If I don't show up for class, she will ask where I was the next time I see her. I like all that; it helps to keep me coming. If for some reason I'm going to miss the next class, I let her know. Joanne has taught this particular M-W-F class at 9:00am for a quarter century, and a core group of perhaps ten people rarely miss. I've become one of them.
Our local YMCA is where I travel every morning, four days a week. As I've mentioned before, I really need a daily routine to be happy, and starting every morning with a bus trip to the Y for my class has taken the place of heading to the office. There are times, like this past Friday, when I look outside and see that the wind is blowing the rain sideways and ponder the correct configuration of clothing for the weather. But I invariably head out, the question is only about what to wear. I'm always glad afterwards, and my need for social interaction has been satisfied as well.
A man and his wife are usually leaving the gym as I arrive. He's got some sort of degenerative disease and needs help walking. She is always right there with him, helping him down the stairs and into the street. In the four years that I've observed them, I noticed that his condition has deteriorated somewhat, but he keeps coming, working out and using his body to the best of his ability. He never fails to smile and has a great attitude. If he can keep coming every day with his infirmities, he must inspire many others besides me.
My Thursday hiking group, the Senior Trailblazers, have become dear friends. We know each other's foibles now, and who won't show up if it's raining and who will. I am constantly amazed at how the days turn out. Last Thursday was another one of those horizontal rain days, and I headed out thinking I was crazy, but I went anyway. The weather cooperated: the rain stopped just before we arrived at the trailhead, and we heard the wind but were in the lee of Blanchard Mountain, so we were protected from the strong southern wind. After a day out in the elements with good friends, even a day that isn't perfect is much more tolerable when I've got people to commiserate with.
I've become an integral part of the group. When I get home after the hike, I download my pictures onto the Mac and write a post on my other blog to document the day and the time we had. Several hikers have commented (tongue in cheek) that they had to read the post before knowing if they had a good time or not.
When I was working, I used my lunch hour for exercise. My office was located in the beautiful foothills of Boulder, and I'd take to the trails in my younger days, jogging several times a week. I was by myself, but the rest of the day was filled with social interaction, so the time spent outdoors alone was a welcome respite. We were also fortunate to have showers and no time clock. My hour usually stretched to ninety minutes, but nobody minded as long as my work was done. I would usually go to the cafeteria and grab a quick salad to consume afterwards. It worked well. I knew then that if I waited to exercise after work, I wouldn't do it at all.
Hmmm. After writing all this down, I realize that it's been several decades now that exercise has been part of my daily routine. It was never a conscious decision, really. Wait, I take that back: I remember one day when I was in my thirties that I bought my first pair of running shoes. The moment that I stood in the doorway of my home, looking down at those shoes, I changed the course of my life forever. Although I went through many trials and tribulations on the way, I became able to run races and become fit. I've had several injuries and even some really bad accidents over the years, but I always return to exercise, finding a way to get that endorphin fix.
Although I can't run any more, I can still walk and work out. Transitioning to a full fitness routine after retiring and moving to another part of the country became a goal I've fulfilled. My intellectual life is still active, using the internet and blogging to remain engaged in the world of the mind. I've made friends through this venue that mean as much to me as many family members do. And every day I look to see what is going on in their lives. How did I ever manage to squeeze in a full-time job? I marvel every day at the fullness of my life.