I have no problem admitting I’m on the down side of 50. Actually, I’m at the bottom of the hill and headed up the next slope. You’d never know it from the way I feel, though. That’s because I exercise a little each day and it helps keep age from bringing me down. I don’t go to the gym three times a week like I used to when I weighed 125 pounds and thought I was fat. These days I stay in shape by doing a little bit every day.
Aerobic exercise: I walk…. a lot
A stranger in a hurry ran a red light a few years back and totaled my little economy car with his big land cruiser. I’ve been walking ever since. It’s helped keep me in shape as I age. I used to drive to the park several mornings a week to walk a mile long wooded track. Now I walk to and through the park. I also walk to the grocery store, the bus stop and all over town. I walk a few miles every day.
Running is a great aerobic exercise for some people, but the last time I ran, something snapped in my knee and I was on crutches for weeks. Walking helped me regain my strength after that mishap. It helped me get rid of a not so sexy limp, and it continues to be the biggest part of my exercise routine. Walking is great aerobic exercise. It keeps my heart pumping strong and my legs in shape. It has far less impact on my aging knees than running. According to “The Carbon Footprint of Daily Travel,” walking is also the green way to go because it helps reduce vehicle emissions.
Exercise can be boring, especially lifting those little hand weights. I admit, I don’t even know where my weights are right now, but when I’m in the mood, I use them to exercise my arms and shoulders. I do curls. I lift them high over my head. I use them when doing waist twists. Weight adds a bit of resistance and makes me work harder. I don’t always have to use weights. When I’m in the kitchen and feeling in an exercise kind of mood, I’m likely to grab a few canned goods for an impromptu workout.
My exercise grab bag
If exercise weren’t so boring nobody would be fat. It is boring, but change helps keep it interesting. Over the years, I collected an exercise mix I return to again and again. The key for me is to do something, so I alternate with a little of this and a little of that depending on my mood.
My sister gave me one of those exercise kits with a floor mat, three elastic bands, a DVD and a great big red rubber ball. I’ve never played the DVD, but I use the ball sometimes while watching TV exercise programs. I love the stretchy bands and use them several times a week. They are great for arm exercises. You simply grasp them tightly and pull. You stretch them as you far apart as you can, then release. They’re great for your arms.
Years ago a friend loaned me a video called “Callanetics” by Callan Pinckney. She developed a series of isometric style exercises designed to isolate and strengthen individual muscles. I no longer have the video, but I still remember my favorite techniques for waist, neck and thighs. I sometimes slip into a neck exercise while I’m sitting at my computer and it helps keep my neck strong and flab free.
Capacitar Tai Chi
While working with a Cincinnati inner city woman’s ministry I attended a Capacitar workshop. After the daylong session, I came away with a sampling of “..holistic practices from many cultures…” I learned finger holds and self-accupressure for stress and symptom relief. I also learned several simplified Tai Chi moves. These moves are relaxing and help to strengthen the body.
The Capacitar non profit presents “Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World” programs around the globe. They travel to communities traumatized by situations such as war, poverty or violence. Traumatized people have found Capacitar’s simple techniques helpful in empowering the process of healing. Their work is proof of the healing power of exercise.
Chi Gong (Qigong)
Several years ago, I participated in free, weekly Chi Gong classes. Chi Gong is an ancient Asian discipline similar to Tai Chi. The moves are precise and fluid. When done properly they help develop strength and agility. I don’t recall all the moves, but I often return to the ones that make my upper arms ache. You know: no pain, no gain.
PBS Exercise programs
I gave up cable years ago, but my digital converter box picks up 15 regional PBS stations instead of the single station I used to get. Several of them have regular exercise programs such as “Sit and Be Fit” and “Lilias Yoga.” I’ve even seen a few vintage “Jack Lalane” shows. When I’m in the mood, I work out on my mat while the TV instructors do their thing. It’s far more personal and private than a class at the gym.
If I did all my exercises every day, I would be one hot older woman. That’s not going to happen, but I’m thrilled with feeling energetic enough to keep up with my two grandsons. The added bonus is when I tell people that I have a 39 year old son and they say, “Why, you don’t look old enough to have a child that age.”
NHTS Brief – “The Carbon Footprint of Daily Travel”