Staying Strong Series


Exercise Three: Move your body.

There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast.

Sherlock Holmes,Sir Arthur Conan  Doyle’s fictional detective

Moving your body for only 20 minutes a day and just hard enough to raise your heart rate improves your emotional fitness.   Some claim  such  exercise does more good than medication for depression.   Moving your body is a double duty exercise, because it also helps you stay physically healthy.

Moving your body does not involve heavy-duty training.  Leave that for the athletes.  Brisk walking works well.  So does some heart raising dancing. Two ten minute periods work as well as one twenty-minute period.   A quick stretch off and on during the day or before and after walking improves flexibility—useful as you age.

CONFESSION:   This is the exercise I have the most difficulty practicing regularly.  I have always been convinced some people are naturally ready, willing, and able to exercise.  It is one of their pleasures.   For the rest of us, it is more of a chore.  I am not a total couch potato, did lots of horseback riding in my youth, and when I was home raising my children and caring for my foster children, I exercised  regularly:  jogging or swimming.  Then I was working full-time outside of the home, and sometimes I walked Whisper at night after I got home or on weekends,  but it was always a push.  I also managed to  get off the subway a stop or two earlier on my way to work, that was also a push.  I think the only thing that kept me in moderately good shape was having to climb three flights of subway stairs at least twice each working day.

Since I am no longer employed outside the home, I have worked at getting exercise regularly.  I must  confess even with time to do anything I want, moving my body regularly has not been easy.  When we first moved here walking with David and Whisper worked.  Then David had trouble walking, but I could still walk Whisper.  Then she had a few seizures and I was afraid to take her on  long walks.   I felt fate was against me, but that was just one excuse among many not to do what I need to do to stay healthy.

Right now, what is working is using our apartment’s complex’s gym and swimming pool. Even that has taken some doing.  The first time I used the gym I over did it and hurt for  many days and so soured on the gym.  Then when the pool opened, David wasn’t allowed to swim because of his surgery, and I was too shy to go alone.  Then when we did start going together, we would put if off until evening and a thunder-storm would give me an excuse.

Now, I make myself Move my body in the morning and combine the Gym and swimming or aqua-sizing when I go.  I am on a roll, but worried that when the pool closes I will falter.  That is why I added the Gym  to swimming.  One of the difficulties people have with establishing a regular exercise routine, particular if it feels like a chore, is that it is usual to start well and then when you feel you have proven you can do it, the challenge is gone and your motivation falters.  I am at the “I can do this” stage.  Hope I can keep doing it.

TIPS Four things have helped me exercise more regularly:

  1. Doing something every day.  Most say three times a week is enough, but that played right into my being able to find an excuse to wait a day or two and that became three or four or more.  So every day with only Shabbat off works better.
  2. Not doing do the same thing every day.  When the pool closes I will go to the gym at the complex at least two days,  to the Y for aqua-sizing two days a week, and walk  two days a week.  We will see.
  3. Having an exercise partner and a regularly scheduled date with that partner.  David is my current exercise partner, but we don’t have a regular date and time we work out together.  Not as helpful when my good friend Julie and I used to meet Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays at 6:00 in the morning to go bike riding.  Thank you Julie.
  4. Doing mini Move Your Body exercises throughout the day.  This is particularly helpful if you are not used to exercising and find going all out leaves you limp and tired.  I found mini additions to my daily routine helped me move on to longer workouts.  Those who follow me, know I often post Move Your Body Music on Facebook. When I post one, sometimes, I jump up and dance, but most often, I wave my arms.  Any movement that makes your heart beat a little faster  strengthens you

TEN MINUTE MOVE YOUR BODY WORKOUT    Here is  a quick ten minute workout that I have found useful some of the time to keep me on track, but not always.  Try it, it might work for you.  Don’t do it without your doctor’s advice, particularly if you our a physical problem that forbids stretching.

  1. Stand.
  2. Take a calming breath.
  3. Next, walk in place at a normal or slightly above rate for two minutes.
  4. Keep walking and raise your hands over your head.  Alternating hands reach high above your head.  Do this for a minute.  If you arms tire, stop bring them down to your sides.
  5. Still walking, hold your arms out to your side and circle them.  Some prefer to move their arms at this point as if jumping rope.  Do this for a minute.
  6. Stop take a calming breath.
  7. Bend your arms, and place your hands on your shoulders.  Bend your left elbow toward your right knee as you lift that knee up to you’re your right elbow.  Alternate sides and do this for a minute.
  8. March in place by picking your feet up higher and swinging your arms.  Do this for three minutes.
  9. Walk normally for two minutes.
  10. Stop walking. Take a deep calming breath and stretch your arms above your head. Stand on tip toes for 30 seconds.  Bring your arms down, slowly bend over and reach for your toes.  Do not bounce, do not reach down further than is comfortable.  When you  feel a pull in the back of your spine and legs,  hold the stretch of 30 seconds.
  11. Slowly roll up to a standing position. Take a calming breath and go about what you are doing.

Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.

Edward Stanley, British Peer and Politician

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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