Doctors can be such a drag.
When you reach a certain age, they keep hounding you to lose some weight, get more exercise, don’t eat anything that tastes good, and probably a lot of other stuff but by that point my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about ice cream. Or cake.
Actually, good food can taste good and I do eat a lot of stuff that’s good for me but since I still eat a lot of the bad crap, weight loss continues to elude me as it does many of my fellow Americans.
The real problem is exercise. I have never been good at exercise for the sake of exercise. It’s a chore. A chore that I am very adept at avoiding. Going to the gym is a bore so I bought a home gym. It takes up the entire dining room and is very convenient for drying laundry which is about the only use it ever gets.
Then I’m told, “You’re old. You need to walk.” I used to walk all the time. To and from work, I’d walk a mile to the train rather than be bothered with finding a parking space at the station. But I hate the idea of walking just to be walking and not as a means of getting somewhere. It seems so senseless.
But I must. So I have a couple of choices. I can walk along the Greenway here in Mount Airy when I finish work which is beautiful but I really need to change out of my work clothes first so I just use the walking track at the park near my house. But oh my goodness, it is boring. I mean really boring. And it’s hot. And in the winter, I’m sure I’ll complain that it’s cold. So I don’t go all that often.
I do go horseback riding on Sundays but one day a week is not enough. Besides, last weekend after a good long trot, I was so winded as to be practically delirious. I faced the sad realization that I am too out of shape to exercise.
So my friend who owns the farm where I ride tells me I need “horsey calisthenics” and to come back Wednesday after work. So I do just that, even though I have no clue what “horsey calisthenics” are. Turns out we are going to walk the perimeter of the lower part of her farm which is just over half a mile.
It’s an idyllic walk through pastures filled with beautiful Thoroughbreds and Arabians. We start down a fairly steep hill and then level off to follow the creek that is her property line. It’s shady and secluded except when the horses hang out there because it’s the coolest part of the pasture. When we get to the corner of the farm, we turn away from the creek and up a hill. They don’t call this part of the world “the foothills” for nothing. It is a very steep hill. My breathing quickens. Thank goodness my friend is in the middle of a fascinating story and I am not called upon to speak until we reach the summit of the hill because speech would have been impossible. I was way too busy heaving and puffing and wondering if that pounding in my chest is what a heart attack feels like.
Turns out I wasn’t having a heart attack and I learned a valuable lesson. Exercise is a lot easier to take with a friend. Especially a friend who is a good conversationalist and will do the heavy lifting on the hills. By our second lap I was able to continue the story I was telling as we went up the hill. It only seemed fair to take my turn and I seemed to have caught a second wind. A raspy, gasping, ragged second wind but a second wind, nonetheless.
We stopped after two laps and according to “Track your hack,” a phone app that lets trail riders track their rides but also works for people walks, we covered 1.11 miles at the blinding speed of 1.86 miles per hour which took 35 minutes. I can do three miles at the track in the same amount of time but since I never actually go and do it, that’s kind of beside the point.
It seems that I have found an aerobic exercise that I enjoy and made plans on the spot to do it again next Wednesday and my friend is considering extending the trail to circle the entire farm. My goal is to be able to keep going for an hour and be able to pull my weight in the conversation without dying.
This is what I learned. Find a way to exercise that you enjoy. Maybe it’s as simple as a change of terrain and scenery like it was for me. Find a friend with whom to exercise which serves to alleviate the boredom and provides accountability in that you can’t just not do it. You have to call up and cancel. That is huge. It may be a little early to declare exercise victory but I think that’s exactly what I am going to do.
Bill Colvard is lifestyle writer for The Mount Airy News. Reach him at 415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.