Monday, November 7, 2016

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I recently read YoungerNext Year by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD. They make a very strong case for why we need to stay physically active every day. Here’s my take: Our biology is programmed to repair our tissues when we are moving at a moderate pace. On the other hand, when we are sitting around—like the grandparent who stays safe in the cave while the rest of the family is out hunting and gathering—our DNA and brain don’t send the signals to keep us functioning optimally.

Crowley and Lodge recommend exercising an hour a day, 6 days a week at 65% of maximum heart rate. This heart rate is surprisingly easy to achieve, just enough to produce a sweat, but not enough to be breathing heavy. Even at that rate, my first thought of exercising 6 days a week is, “Ugh, that doesn’t sound like fun.” But Michael and I are sold on the logic of it and are keeping each other on track.

Going to the gym is not what I normally consider a good time, but it works for Michael so we go together two days a week. The gym seems boring to me, so I have to change it up, one day on the exercise bike, another on the cross trainer, one on the recumbent bike, sometimes on the elliptical. There is no way I would go by myself—having my partner makes it fun. We also reward ourselves by goofing around on the equipment after meeting the aerobics goals. It’s entertaining to play with the PRX equipment or try some fancy “power clean” moves with the free weights. 

Last Friday was beautiful, so we went for a walk instead and enjoyed the falling leaves, a peaking view of Mt. Rainier, and the crispness in the air.

I also dance twice a week, so that’s four days out of six. It’s been a struggle to get the other two days in, so I have to come up with a laundry list of possibilities.
·        My favorite, of course, is to go to the property and play lumberjack. It doesn’t even seem to be exercise when we’re clearing brush, exploring the woods, or even lugging heavy chains around. That is the key: when activity gets the heart rate up, but it isn’t drudgery. Yesterday, I chopped down a tree with an ax. (It was a little tree, but still!)
·        Running around after my grand-nephews falls in this category, too. Watching TV with them doesn’t count, but taking them to the creek or getting on the floor to play Legos does. It’s time to make another play date.
·        Since Michael’s back surgery, we’ve also been doing a weekly core exercise routine. Routine isn’t quite the right word. Although we have some regular exercises, like plank, we also come up with ideas to challenge each other, a bit like kids who ask: “Can you do this?” It was starting to get a little boring, so I bought a Bosu ball to add some variety. It also helps us work on our balance.
·        A couples times a month, I have a private Pilates session. Even if the Pilates routine isn’t 100% fun, it’s 100% helpful and my Pilates teacher is always enjoyable.
·        Yoga is fun sometimes and sometimes it’s not. I realize that’s my mood—not yoga itself—that makes the difference. When it the physical aspect of yoga sounds fun, I do it. (I try to practice the non-physical, non-exercise aspects of yoga every day.)

Playfulness is an important part of staying younger, particularly when it applies to exercise. I want to be the old grandma in the cave, but the grandma who is laughing joyfully, not groaning because my joints hurt. So I look for fun activities and try to add them to my regular repertoire of six days a week of exercise.

Please feel free to comment and let us know what you do for exercise that’s fun. 

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