Anniversary of a Different Sort
By Jeff Salter
Folks, our 4F1H schedule is pretty loose so far this year … so loose, in fact, that this week’s topics began with question marks. My colleague Foxes – Iris, Jillian, & Micki – have done very well with those, and I’m sure Tonette will also … but I’ve got nothing.
However, I did reach an unusual milestone this past weekend … so that’s what I plan to yak about here today.
The Price of Inactivity
For those who have remained physical active throughout your adult life, these paragraphs may not be understandable. But if any of you have found yourself in lengthy periods where all you did was go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, get up, go to work … well, then you may comprehend what my life had become from the mid 1990s through the early 2000s.
No physical exercise whatsoever; hardly any activity to speak of. Lots of pain. This is not the place to detail all my symptoms or ailments, but suffice it to say that nearly everything hurt, and the prospect of exercise was forbidding. So I stopped moving.
Things reached a point where I began to realize, in concrete terms, how inactive I’d been and for how long. And I could see the negative results … felt the deleterious effects.
Found myself in a rheumatologist’s office and he told me something I already knew: to feel even incrementally better (long range), I was going to have to start moving again … or my situation would continue to get worse. Knowing how bad I already felt, it terrified me to imagine feeling even worse.
The Doctor asked if I was willing to go to physical therapy. I replied, verbatim, “Doc, I’m desperate and I’ll do whatever you say.”
So he made the appointment. After the head of that physical therapy unit did her evaluation, she asked if I was willing to do supervised exercises in their warm pool. I told her the very same thing I’d told the doctor.
Eight Years of Exercise
That began eight years ago, on Jan. 21, 2005 — the week after I returned from the birth of my second grandchild in another state.
Since that time, I’ve exercised 1072 times. Yeah, I’ve kept count. It’s extremely difficult for me to be motivated about this, so (at times) the only thing which keeps me going is that I’m looking toward the next round NUMBER. Right now, that number is 1100.
I began with those 20 supervised sessions in the warm water at the physical therapy unit. From there I moved to a hospital-sponsored wellness facility, where I did 33 more unsupervised sessions of water exercise, while I awaited clearance from my G.P. to resume ‘strenuous’ exercise. [That was held up for several weeks by my wait for a ‘bicycle’ test of my heart and lungs].
After that water exercise (& the medical clearance), I ‘graduated’ to the regular wellness room with aerobic machines and weight machines. All the exercises for my 139 sessions there were drawn-up by a trainer / therapist assigned to my case.
My program since relocating to KY has been entirely of my own design … and it has varied. Some periods have been more concentrated on weight machines, while other stretches have been mostly aerobic / motion machines. A typical workout these days is a net of 80 minutes of exercise on site, not counting travel time.
Those 1072 sessions may not sound like a lot of exercise for eight years, but it breaks down to these averages: 134 times per year, 11.2 times per month, and 2.6 times per week. [Note: my best year so far was 2007, when I went 149 times — 12.4 times per month and nearly 2.9 per week.]
Things get in the way of exercise. We sold a house, moved three states away, built a house, moved again, had more grandkids out of state, and went to more funerals than we want to count. Other things interfere with exercise: like weather, schedule conflicts, project deadlines, illness, etc.
But the biggest obstacle is still the same one I began with eight years ago: I don’t really WANT to go, it’s not in any way convenient, there’s almost never a perceived immediate gratification benefit … plus, it still hurts to move.
Why Am I Whining?
Well, actually it’s not whining when you use your experience (hopefully) to help motivate somebody else who also needs to “start moving again.”
And I know many people who need to resume exercise. An acquaintance at the ‘Y’ (where I exercise now) has an adult son who suffers from many ailments with some symptoms quite like mine eight years ago. This concerned father asked me to communicate with his son, hopefully to help convince that grown man that he needed to resume exercise, lest his symptoms continue to get even worse. [Which they undoubtedly will, if he doesn’t make an effort to turn it around.]
I have emailed this other person several times and encouraged him, but as far as I know, he has not done anything about it. As I told his father, “maybe your son isn’t desperate enough yet.” Those words may sound cold or harsh, but I believe they’re true. Until I reached “desperate” status, I would not have submitted to physical therapy or childish-looking supervised exercises in the warm pool.
But, hey … you have to start somewhere!
If your adult body has suffered from a lack of physical activity for a sustained period of time – no matter the reason(s) – it’s never too late to begin correcting that problem and reversing those circumstances. And, take it from me, whatever symptoms you’re experiencing will NOT get any better on their own. It may take an investment in effort, commitment – and pain – to get you back on the right track.
And, a few years down the road (when you feel better), you can look back and brag to others about how many exercise sessions you’ve compiled over the past X years. Ha!
How about your activity level? Have you settled into a rut of work-home-bed-work? Do you have aches / pains … or other problems? Fluctuations in weight? No energy? High stress?