Spring Training

Amazing- almost 80 degrees on Easter Day in Connecticut!    Ken and I enjoyed the day on our bikes, riding a  big loop through northeastern CT.  75 miles and 5 hours later we’d spotted:  llamas, pot belly pigs, horses of every color and breed, dogs, cats, wood frogs, wild turkey, and even THE EASTER BUNNY.  I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood songs by the Irish Rovers,  “You’ll see green alligators, and long necked geese, humpty back camels and some chimpanzees, …. cats, and rats and elephants but sure as you’re born, you aint’ going to see no unicorn”.  I’m not sure if Ken appreciated me singing my way up the hills….

Being Easter, we didn’t see a lot of other people out, but yesterday was amazing.  I always think it’s so much fun on the first warm days as people crawl out of hibernation and into the sunshine.  Little kids on bikes, big kids on bikes, grandma and grandpas on bikes, dog walkers, runners, and sun bathers… all enjoying the warm weather.

As great as it is to see the parks and rail trails being used, there are still far too many people who see exercise as a chore.  Last week there were headlines about how researchers now realized that women need 60 min per day of moderate exercise in order to avoid weight gain.  I was thrilled to read it, although I must admit I thought it was a little ridiculous that it took a research study to show us what anyone middle aged knows… it is harder to keep the weight off as you age, and therefore more exercise is required.  Honestly, I doubt 60 min of moderate exercise is enough, I find 2 hours per day about right.  And it isn’t THAT hard to fit in two hours IF you enjoy it.  One of my greatest pleasures is commuting on my bike to work- it takes me an hour and 20 min to ride 21 miles.  It takes almost 40 minutes to drive it, so at a “time cost” of  only 40 minutes, I’ve gotten 2/3s of my 2 hours in!  If I rode home, I get a bonus of 40 minutes and can take it easier the next day.  But, even better than that, IT”S FUN.  As everyone else is stuck in traffic, I ride along in the bike lane, happy to be enjoying the day and relaxing after (or before) work.  I also love to walk my dog, go running, go swimming, or go kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing or skiing.    The point is, if you enjoy it, it’s not a chore and something you have to fit into your schedule.  For me it’s the other way around, I have to fit everything else.  And when it comes down to it, what’s more important?  Being healthy, strong, and happy or getting all the chores done?  I admit, sometimes I have to get chores done, but there are plenty of days when I’d much rather be out having some fun and getting some exercise.  Find something you love to do, find a friend or family member to do it with, and you will find that soon you are so much happier and healthier. 

For me, variety in my exercise routine is important.  I love to run, and enjoy putting  in 60 or 70 miles per week, but whenever I do, I get injured.  Canoeing and kayaking can both be fantastic exercise for the whole body, you have to learn to paddle properly, and you have to work hard enough to get your heart pumping, but once you learn, you’ll never go back to floating around the pond with a drink in your hand.  Cycling is probably my favorite and also the biggest calorie burner, but it takes alot of time and you need  warm weather to enjoy it.  Hiking and walking are something anyone can do and pretty much anywhere.  Mixing it up, going with the weather, keeping different muscles strong and active, is all part of the balancing game for me as I age.  For others, it might be finding one sport to perfect and setting a goal.  Maybe you want to run a marathon, or bike a century, or kayak around Manhattan.  At different times in my life, those have all been goals that motivated me.  All those events were amazing experiences but even more important was the fun of preparing and training with friends.  My most lasting friendships have been those that have come about through training for and accomplishing some sort of event together.  Give it a try, find something that interests you, set a goal and GO FOR IT!!

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