Run Forest Run

Exercise is good for you. You should spend 30 minutes doing some kind of aerobic exercise at least five times a week. You should do core exercises or lift weights a couple times a week. Exercise can help prevent heart disease, lower your blood pressure, prevent broken bones, and keep your cholesterol under control.

Blah blah blobbity blah blah.

I know all those things are true, but I hate to exercise. I always have. I do now. I always will.

Much of my life, I have been able to set aside my dislike of exercise and have faithfully grunted myself into good health. I have run, walked, or biked. I have jumped around doing step aerobics. I have danced my butt off doing Jazzercise.  I belonged to Curves. For over a year, I faithfully walked on a Nordic Track in my basement every morning before work. Never once – not for one minute – did I enjoy what I was doing. I enjoy sitting in my recliner reading the latest C.J. Box mystery. I like plopping in front of the television and watching Chief Inspector Morse listen to opera while solving a complicated mystery. I do not like putting on my stretch pants and doing anything that makes me break out in a sweat, especially since yoga isn’t in my future and stretch pants aren’t my friend.

But I do it. Or at least I do it most of the time.

Walking is my current exercise of choice. I walk pretty faithfully every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have added a twist to my walking regime – Nordic walking. In addition to making me look like an incredible fool, the walking poles are supposed to work the entire body more effectively because you apply pressure on the poles with each step. I can’t confirm or deny their effectiveness. But I can certainly confirm that I look quite silly…..

The other day the skies were threatening rain. I was trying to talk myself into getting out for my walk early so that I could beat the rain. Suddenly I remembered that I belong to 24 Hour Fitness, thanks to Silver Sneakers. I know it sounds funny to point out that I had forgotten that I had a membership in a health club, but there you have it. It had been quite some time – several years, in fact – since I entered the doors of that club. Part of the reason is that we spend nearly half the year in AZ, where there are no 24 Hour Fitness Clubs. Being the best thing about growing older, Silver Sneakers actually pays for my membership at two clubs – 24 Hour Fitness here in Denver and LA Fitness in AZ.

So I walked confidently through the door and typed in my telephone number. I then dutifully rested my finger on the fingerprint identifier. See receptionist, it told me. I did, and she looked me up on her computer. I was no longer there.

She gave me a liar-liar-pants-on-fire look. “Has it been a while since you’ve been here?” the young woman asked me. I told her the truth, that it had been several years. I learned that even Silver Sneakers has its limits, and I had been purged. Never fear, however, as I was quickly reinstated, and on my merry way to a treadmill. Thanks again, Silver Sneakers.

Bill likes exercise about as much as I, which is to say not at all. The difference between he and I, however, is that – see above – I enjoy reading or watching PBS mysteries. He, on the other hand, doesn’t sit down from the time he finishes breakfast until dinnertime. He’s always working around the house or in the yard or on some sort of project. Still, he is never eager to go out and pursue an aerobic activity. Unfortunately, aerobic exercise is what his movement disorder doctor recommends.

I bought him a pair of walking poles, and if I am really, really persuasive, I can get him to walk with me, using his poles. He also has taken to riding his bike a bit. Oddly, bicycle riding has proven to be effective exercise for people with Parkinson’s.

I read recently that while exercise is critical to maintaining health, once you reach my age, exercise is not very effective at assisting in weight loss. Apparently you can’t out-exercise the food you put in your mouth.

All I can say, is exercise better be good for something, because I don’t do it for the fun of it. Seriously, do you?

Stayin’ Alive

One of the best things about being a public employee retiree in Colorado is that PERA provides a free membership to Silver Sneakers. If you’re not a senior citizen like me, you might not know about this program which offers free membership to thousands of gyms around the country for (as they describe it) baby boomers and beyond. Quite frankly, I’m not sure there’s really a “beyond” from baby boomers, but I’m not their marketing director. The bottom line, however, is that Silver Sneakers is the second best thing about growing old. The first, of course, is what used to be the $10 lifetime National Parks pass that was available to people 62 and older. That price has now increased to $80. Still a smokin’ deal, but not as smokin’ as $10.

As a result of my Silver Sneakers membership, I belong to not one, but two gyms. Two, because there are no LA Fitnesses in Denver and there are no 24 Hour Fitnesses in AZ. So I belong to both. And Silver Sneakers pays for both of my memberships. Sheer awesomeness.

Except, of course, that right now I’m using neither gym because of my self-diagnosed bursitis.  Not only am I unable to exercise right now, but I have a condition that makes me feel like Granny Clampett. By the way, please don’t tell Silver Sneakers that their membership fee is currently going to waste because I promise I’m going to go back just as soon as I’m no longer Granny Clampett.

As a result of my membership, I get a regular email from Silver Sneakers that provides interesting and pertinent information to people of my generation. A recent email, for example, offered suggestions on how to strengthen your thighs – not to look better (that ship has sailed) but to make it more likely that you won’t break a femur bone or be unable to pick up your 3-year-old grandson who is in the 97th percentile for height and weight. Just sayin’…..

The email I received yesterday was entitled Things People Who Feel Half Their Age Do Every Week. I would like to feel half my age, I thought. Plus, it looked more interesting than the following article entitled What to Eat Before and After a Cardio Workout, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Dunkin Donuts.

Here were a few of their suggestions, and how I plan on incorporating them into my everyday life:

  1. Hang Out with Older and Younger Crowds
    Silver Sneakers suggest that by hanging out with only people of your age, you will only do people-of-your-age activities. People at least a decade older will expose you to their wisdom and to different attitudes. Like crabbiness. Because it sure seems that the majority of folks I see in the grocery store who have come off of the retirement center bus are grouchy and WILL HIT YOU WITH THEIR GROCERY CART IF YOU GET IN THEIR WAY. I will stick to hanging out with Bill (who I am always quick to point out is 11 years my senior. And not crabby. As for younger crowds, I have grandkids ranging in age from 3 to 14. They count. Don’t tell me they don’t.
  2. Embrace Newness and Change
    Now, newness and change are all well and good, but the reality is if I change up anything very much, I will never remember where I put it/how to do it/what it’s for. Silver Sneakers says that when we change things in our lives, our brains rewire themselves, making them form new synapses, which is apparently a good thing. So I am committed to changing my gin martini to a vodka martini every other day. I might even substitute a lemon twist for the olive. Keep firing, Synapses!
  3. Move as Much as You Can
    Everything counts, according to Silver Sneakers. So I will keep my gin in my closet upstairs and my vodka in my storage room downstairs. Not only will this require me to walk stairs, but I will have to remember which place I put which liquor bottle, thereby making my synapses fire even more. Neighbors might even call the fire department.
  4. Never Consider Yourself Old
    Okay. I’m not considering myself old. My kids and my grandkids, however, think I’ve got one foot in the grave. They have the retirement home on speed dial.

There were plenty of other suggestions, and in all seriousness, they are pretty good ideas. And they are ideas that I really do try to incorporate into my life. Laughing, keeping busy, having fun are great goals for baby boomers and beyond. Whatever that means.

Talking Loudly

searchThe other day Bill and I took one of our dreaded trips to the gym. I say dreaded because there is never a single time when I think, “Oh, yay! It’s Monday. I couldn’t possibly be more excited that we get to go work out! It’s so beneficial, and feels so good too.” Yep. Those words will never pass my lips. But we go because we need to, and because we know it is beneficial to our health. Oh yeah, and it also feels good. It feels good to have LA Fitness in the rear view mirror of our car, that is!

Anyway, we found two treadmills next to each other, set claim to them, and began to walk. Bill had on his headphones and immediately became deeply engrossed in the sports station he was watching. I read when I work out, and so I am unable to block out sound. However, if it’s a good book, I can lose myself in the story and I don’t pay attention to anything that’s going on around me.

That particular day, however, I couldn’t miss what was going on around me as I would have had to be dead (or deeply engrossed in a sports station with earphones blocking out all sound) to miss it. There was a young man, age 25-1/2 (you will soon see how I know his age) standing on the treadmill next to me, conducting business on his cell phone. He didn’t have the treadmill turned on; he was simply standing on it. And the business he was conducting was applying for a second mortgage on his home. Loudly. So loudly, I’m afraid, that I was able to overhear the entire transaction, though I tried really hard not to listen.

I know his date of birth (October 2, 1990). I know his credit score. I know he has taken out a few small loans in the recent past to do upgrades on his house and therefore was concerned about his credit score which is why I know what it is. It is 720. He was so thrilled with the score that he chose to say it out loud so that we all could know and rejoice. I know he is a computer analyst but has a secondary business he operates out of his home from which he earns $2000 a month.  (I was tempted to lean over to him and let him know that I missed out on what his earnings were for his regular job, but I resisted the urge.)

I tried to get away. I really did. In fact, after learning his credit score, I picked up my iPad and moved to a vacant treadmill a bit down the row. Though several treadmills away, it was not far enough to avoid hearing him apply for his loan.

And when he was finished, he turned on the treadmill, ran for a full 30 seconds, stepped off and left the building.

I was perturbed that my peaceful workout had been disrupted, it’s true. But honestly, more than that, I wanted to put my hands on either side of his youthful and naïve face and say, “Young man, do you understand that you just let the entire gym know your personal information?”

Having recently been in the hospital, I will tell you that there is only one piece of information that members of the medical field need in order to access ALL of your personal health data – your date of birth. Well, they probably need your name as well, and if I had gotten there a touch earlier, I would have that information too. As it was, I got in a few minutes late and so I don’t know his name. No matter what I’m trying to do when dealing with a doctor’s office or a hospital, all I need to tell them is my name and my date of birth and they will begin telling me whatever I want to know.

When I talk on my cell phone, I speak very loudly. I know this to be true because I hear myself. And because Bill tells me. For reasons I don’t understand, however, I can’t stop myself. But I can – and do – try to maintain privacy when on the telephone. I leave the room or go outside if I’m with other people.

The other day as I was waiting for Bill during his dental procedure, there was a woman on her cell phone talking to a friend. Talking loudly to a friend. So loudly, in fact, that people were leaving the small waiting room, tossing her dirty looks as they left. She was entirely unaware of the effect her conversation was having on the rest of the room, however, as she was telling her friend (and all of us) what she and her husband paid for their mobile home, all of their health problems, and their various vacation plans coming up.

Unlike the young man, she didn’t share any information that could have been used for nefarious purposes. Nevertheless, it made me wonder once again when we lost our sense of personal and private space. Sigh.