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The seasons and the landscape keep me from exercise boredom. In the fall, I cycle and walk, while watching the leaves change colour and the puddles ice up. In the winter I walk, play broomball, and cross-country ski through boreal forest. In the spring I walk, then bike when it warms up enough, all the while exuberantly watching the burgeoning green of the landscape. In the summer, I notice all the animals as I bike, the beaver, kingfishers, ducks, sometimes deer, rabbits, ravens. And I watch all the varieties of ferns unfurl into feathery greenness, the flowers blooming. And every day I do qigong and tai chi, inside or outside depending on the weather.
I couldn’t pick just one season, I love them all. And as for where to be physically active, I decided long ago I was, on the whole, an outdoor exerciser. Weight rooms are on my list of places to avoid. I find them boring and flat. Strange, considering all the time I’ve spent in weight rooms during my education as an exercise specialist.
But that’s the way it works. To make exercise a part of your life, an activity you love, and the spicy thing that makes your blood zing with enthusiasm, you have to get it to romance you. Turn your exercise into a love affair. Let it take you to exciting places, make you feel better than you ever have, and cause your face glow. Then settle down with it for the rest of your life. A good healthy lifestyle that never gets old.
And it need never get old. I don’t know how we get stuck in ruts when there are so many exciting ways to keep physical activity fresh. For instance, some people take active vacations, cycling through Ireland from pub to pub, snorkeling in the Barbados from reef to reef, or paddling Quetico Park from lake to lake. Some people buy themselves expensive equipment or high-tech gear. Others compete in races or have personal bests they strive to beat. Still others take up challenging activities, including martial arts, racquetball, and kayaking.
The possibilities are endless. You may even be one of those people who enjoys the weight room, to which I say, ‘Go for it! Better you than me.’
When picking your lifelong physical activities, you want to make sure they have good qualities, such as:
If it’s a chore, you’re not going to want to spend time with your chosen activity. Fun is very subjective, so quest around until you find what tickles you. Some activities I find fun:
- Fitness balls. Oh I love these challenging and effective strengthening and stretching tools. Not only are they primo for increasing your core strength, they also improve your balance and flexibility, while providing lots of merriment.
- Team Sports. For fun, I normally don’t sprint around in short bursts until my heart rate is up and I’m out of breath. However, when I add in a team sport like broomball, heck, I’m having a darned good time.
- Out on the land. You can do many activities on the land from hiking to camping to paddling. They’re all good clean fun, guaranteed to keep you glowing.
You want your exercise to grow old gracefully with you, rather than have it hurt you and leave you injured and heartbroken. So, maybe you won’t stick with the high jump and shot putt, however, swimming is a great match, no matter your age or movement issues.
It’s great to have an activity that grows with you, allowing you to constantly learn new aspects, keeping life fresh. Some examples:
- Tai chi and qigong. Complete body, mind, and spirit exercise systems that offer endless opportunities for learning, from the many different types of tai chi forms to the thousands of qigong exercises. And no matter what life throws at you, tai chi and qigong can help by providing relaxation, stress reduction, better breath capacity, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular benefit, better balance, energy, help with many health issues, and even self-defense.
- Yoga. Another body, mind, and spirit system that offers activities from breath and bodywork, to spiritual and volunteer work.
Exercise, Massage, and New Activity Cautions
Photo Credit: Alexander Abolinsh
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