Exercise (Sigh)

I love food! The best thing about exercise is that you can eat, and not gain weight, as long as you aren’t a glutton.

I don’t think of myself as a 70 something woman, not every day that is. But in terms of stamina, my energy level is not what it was thirty years ago. The more you do, the more you can do I tell myself, and motor along.

At 40, when I didn’t have an opera or a concert on my schedule, I would walk to the tennis court, play two hours, go for a bike ride afterward, and perhaps even a swim. Then buy groceries, prepare and serve dinner, walk the dog, make love, do the laundry, not necessarily in that order, and go to bed around midnight. Somewhere in there I would have a nap for maybe 10 minutes or so. I have always been a power napper.

Now, I walk 7  holes on the golf course, and then pick up a cart, the knee replacement and missing PCL make this necessary. (See blog- Those Knees). When I get home, I take the dog out, have a nap, cook dinner or go out to a local restaurant, and fall asleep while watching TV. I also have a whirlpool bath to ease muscle aches and usually have a glass of champagne at the same time. That really works.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA shot of Riki in Knickers gear

I try to swim three times a week where I do my exercises with ankle aquatic cuffs. Sometimes I just swim 30 minutes non-stop of the breaststroke and sidestroke. This is a nice aerobic activity without muscle strain. There are numerous indoor pools that are very reasonable. I go to a Parks and Rec pool called Gus Ryder that is about $1.50 a swim, and when I am in Florida I swim in my condo pool outdoors. I always try to book a hotel with a pool when we travel, not just for the exercise, but also because I like how the water makes me feel. When I swim, I think. I solve problems, come up with creative ideas, plan trips, organize my day, hum a tune. I feel refreshed, and virtuous.

I know swimming is not for everyone. Cycling is terrific though. I used to cycle regularly with my husband, Charles. We went on numerous bike trips to Europe, or just day rides here. I loved those adventures. My bike is ready, tires filled, helmet waiting, but it seems harder and harder to get me on it. We, the bike and I, just stare at each other when I go in the garage. Maybe tomorrow I say.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA shot of Riki during rush hour in Ireland

I took up Pilates a few years ago when I found the gym weight training machines unforgiving and hard on those knees of mine. I work with an instructor. In fact I have two, one here in Toronto, Alisa at Brave Body, and another in Florida, Vicki at On the Run Fitness. I like one on one with the trainer, but group classes are offered that are less expensive and more sociable.

Some of my friends still play tennis or platform tennis, one of my friends is a marathoner, bless her, another is a hockey player, incredible. Many friends golf and walk the whole course. Some are serious hikers. However, if none of these appeals, there is walking. And if you are able, walking is easy. You can take a walk every day or get a dog, and then you have to walk at least three times a day. A dog can be your own personal trainer.

When Charles was in the midst of twice daily radiation treatments for throat cancer, he decided, if nothing else, he would walk the dog around the block once every day. He missed only two days in that month, when it poured rain. He also lost 45 pounds and found that he could put his hands around his once muscled calves. He decided to start strength training when he recovered, and gained back his weight, and hasn’t stopped working out. He is now 6 years well. Watch Dr. Mike Evans’ YouTube videos and you will be convinced about the health benefits of walking.

There is one downside to exercise and that is injuries. They seem much easier to get after 50 and very prevalent when you are 70. I was sitting at my club recently and the talk revolved around sciatic nerve pain, rotator cuff surgery, lower backs, plantar fasciitis, bunions, orthotics, bursitis, tennis elbows, numb necks, and what to do for relief. I heard about Frequency-Specific Microcurrent for all sorts of ailments. I already knew about Bioflex laser, and how well it worked for me.

Arthritis often accompanies many of these problems. I use very light golf clubs for example (Cobra Baffler), with the largest size Winn grips because of the pain in my hands when I strike the ball. I have osteophytes on my hands that I thought were ganglions and read that you could smash them with a bible, and get rid of them. Fortunately, I had them x-rayed and discovered I would have broken some bones if I had tried that. The body may be falling apart, but I still look cute, I often tell myself.

Last evening at dinner we talked politics, which I always consider a no-no, but one of my guests opined that it was much better than talking about our aches and pains. There is always Advil and Aleve to get you through temporarily, Sports Medicine Doctors to advise, and numerous Physiotherapy clinics. Best to ask friends about their experiences and recommendations.

But no matter what the pain, the exercise gain is more than worth it and you can have lots of aches even if you are sedentary. So I advocate activity. There have  been some recent studies about Alzheimer’s that state that walking is important and may even help in the progression of the disease. Hyperlink

I should go for a bike ride this morning. It is Sunday, and quiet on the streets in my neighbourhood, but Oscar, my dog is giving me ‘that look’ so I guess it will just be a long walk, and I will wave to the cyclists as they flash by.

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Riki and Oscar take a break from a long walk

Have a fit day!