Exercise

My Dad lived to be 95 years old. Growing up in Colorado he was pretty active. Horses, ice hockey, mountain climbing. He’d had an accident when he was about 16 with a bad fall from a mountain. He lay at the foot of this mountain for about a day until his father came looking for him. His doctor there told him it was just badly bruised, prescribed bed rest but when nothing got better his father took him to Mayo Clinic. They found a smashed hip which they replaced, yet Dad for the rest of his life walked with a slight limp.

So when he was 93 or so he became what some call infirm, but he never got old. His doctor sketched out several exercises to keep him ambulatory, more or less active.

He almost never did these.

I would take him to his check ups. Doctor would ask if he was doing his exercises. “Oh, my yes,” he’d say. I, sitting behind him where doctor could imperceptibly look at me, would be frantically shaking my head, “no”. So his doctor who was quite fond of Dad, most everyone was, would ratchet up his insistence, in a gentle way, and Dad would agree whole-heartedly. But just like drinking his 6-8 glasses of water, it was whatever he chose to do.

He lived on his own terms, good or bad.

So when I had my 60th birthday a year ago I decided 20 years of running most mornings was enough and gave myself permission to stop. Maybe husky-mix rescue dog Lily was relieved, she seemed to enjoy our 3-4 mile-a-day runs. I decided to be kind to my knees. They’d served me well for so long, why risk pressing my luck?

So now Lily and terrier-mix rescue dog Lulu and I walk at a nature preserve here nearly everyday where they can go off-leash and it is a pleasant hour or so walk through 2-plus miles of mostly shaded trails. But sometimes I wonder if it is enough.

In warmer months I also ride my bike 5-10 miles a day but recently I have (in the occasional times I actually watch any television at all) noticed a commercial for a new stationary bike. One that simulates mountain biking (which I have never done), beach biking, and cycling in general. This ad is really tempting. A svelte young woman (who later turns out to actually even be a mom when her husband and child appear as she gently blots glistening dots of perspiration from her brow) in a picturesque glass-enclosed exercise room pumps away on this bike, listening to the digital “coach” encourage her up the grueling digital hills. This thing looks and seems so wonderful, I can almost see muscles forming at her calves, watch her arms as they white-knuckle the handle bars flex as she vigorously pumps.

Yes, I think, I should have something like this.

Never mind that the cost is in the thousands. Or that my day does not have the flexibility to venture forth on these precipitous digital rides. Where would I put this thing? Marketing is clever. We watch these commercials, forgetting we do not have a house like this with a glass-walled 200-square-foot room in which to house the bike. I’d have to build on an addition to my house. Then I’d need to tangle with my HOA and I make it a point never to interact with my HOA. Besides which I do not have any extra space where I could add on anything, certainly not an exercise room.

So I guess it’s huffing along the local rural roads outside my subdivision, and enjoying the sun-dappled walks in the nature preserve.

I’ll take that.

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