We’ve floated the Kaw River with a strong head wind. We’ve floated the Kaw in the rain. But a week ago we floated the Kaw with blue skies, 80 degree temperatures, lunch served on the bank and all kinds of fun and interesting people. And while I much prefer gentle water on a blue skied September day, each time I’ve enjoyed myself immensely. There is something in my body chemistry that feels in sync when I’m outdoors doing something physical.
These kinds of activities require a certain level of fitness. Until a couple of years ago, I felt that I was actually getting stronger every year. I was a scrawny teen ager in an era that provided few athletic opportunities for girls. Beginning in college, I decided to be more active. I became involved in sports (swimming and a pitiful attempt at softball) and outdoor activities. I did gain strength and found myself able to ride further and paddle longer as time went on. Like many people, I gained a pound every year or two but I started so underweight that at first it seemed like a good thing. Those pounds helped to increase my endurance rather than slowing me down.
Unfortunately you can’t gain a pound a year for decades without becoming a bit chubby. As my weight crept up and my body aged, it has become more difficult to pop into a kayak and begin paddling. In the last couple of years, squatting – to get into a kayak, take a book off a low shelf (I’m a librarian), get into a tent, reach some cobwebs in a corner – has become increasingly difficult. I’m not overweight based on the charts, but I’m just a few pounds short of it. I decided it was time to do something about it. I want to keep kayaking for quite awhile longer.
So the end of July, I joined weight-watchers online and began exercising regularly – again.
One way to encourage yourself to stick with an exercise plan is to have a fun goal to reach for. Mine is cross country skiing in Yellowstone National Park. Years ago some friends did this for their honeymoon. I’ve wanted to go ever since. This February we are planning to go and I want to be fit enough to enjoy the trip.
The result so far:
- Down 3 ½ pounds since mid-July. Not much, but I’m moving in the right direction. My goal is only 10 pounds loss so this is good progress.
- Some form of aerobic exercise at least three days a week.
- Weights at least twice a week. Got to keep those bones strong.
- I’ve added some flexibility exercises as well. I want to be able to look over my shoulder.
How are you handling fitness and exercise? What do you do to remain strong and fit? Do you have any great stories to tell about what has motivated you to begin and stick with a fitness regime? What programs have worked for you?
Some web links about exercise for those middle-aged and older:
An article from Time Magazine: Exercise to Protect Aging Bodies — and Brains. Who would have thought of linking weight loss to de-cluttering? Here’s an article on just that from AARP. While you are there, you can read some of their other material on exercise and fitness. The National Institute on Aging has some great resources on exercise and activity. NIH also has stories of older adults (60’s through 90’s) who remain fit. The author of Strong Women Stay Young – a great book for women ages 40 and older beginning a weight program – has a website, Strong Women with more exercises. And to motivate you, the Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) Program has many enticing active adventures. Search on activity levels 5,6, and 7 to find hiking, biking, and other active vacations.