It is a vividly bright day this morning, sun shining on freshly fallen snow, the Peak crisply cocked against a balloon sky. The house is quiet. The tree has been dismantled, the beds stripped, the fridge and cupboards cleared of all dangerous treats (well, except that one bottle of rum. Oh, and the verpoorten advocaate which my friend Renate brought for a little New Year’s Day party we had here. And three candy canes.)
Yesterday, I finally trundled my way back to the gym, with a new goal to learn how to swim more efficiently. It’s good for the shoulders and neck, which get so tight during all those hours at the computer. I’ll get back to yoga classes tomorrow, too. I’ve been hiking and walking the dogs, but that’s a challenge with the icy paths and streets (especially since Jack is still in recovery from knee surgery), and it’s not been enough. I like to be active. Not for health benefits, though that’s a nice side effect. Not for weight loss, though it does mean I can eat more. Not for any reason except that it feels good. I was never an athletic child–I was particularly horrible at team sports involving balls–but I loved walking forever with my grandmother. I loved riding my bike all over the neighborhood and climbing ropes and spending as much of the day as possible at the local swimming pool and skating at Roller Rena with my dad, who as a beautiful skater and swimmer. It felt good, especially as the rest of the time, I was curled up in a chair, utterly still, reading. And reading. And reading.
The statistics are out again, about modest exercise and what it can do for you. Simple things. Walk a half hour. Swim a little while. A woman I know is losing weight like crazy by rollerblading, and I seriously want to get some outdoor skates (not rollerblades for me, thanks, but check these out) for spring. I’ve been swimming again because I did love it so much as a child.
And for the record, I am not particularly good at any of these things (well, skating. I am good at that.) I splash around the swimming pool like five little kids. I jog so slowly that turtles zip right by me. My hiking buddy, who is a decade older than I, routinely has to slow down while we are hiking.
But writers have a very, very, very sedentary job and we have to consciously add movement. It makes the work better. It keeps repetitive motion injuries to a minimum, and it allows time for ideas to percolate.
Everything out there is telling you to lose weight for the new year. I don’t care how much you weigh. I do care about how healthy you are. If you are not moving, what is stopping you? Do you feel embarrassed to do something badly? Take a lesson or two. Is it too cold/hot where you are? Find something you can do indoors. What kind of exercise feels like play to you? Did you, like me, swim and roller skate? Did you love to play softball at the corner lot? Did you ride your bike forever and ever and ever?
What are some ideas for exercise that is PLAY? What do you love to do? (And if you like something hard, that’s great. I want to test myself hiking some more 14ers this summer.)