So, here’s the thing. I have never once done something like walk a 1/2 Marathon, where I finish, and wish I hadn’t done it. I am satisfied after I do the walk. (walk is a synonym for any form of exercise) I am never disappointed with my time. My goal is simple – I want to finish.
And I am always awestruck by the supporters of these community race week-ends. Streets lined with people of all ages, cheering everyone along, plus water stations; snacks; sprinklers; inspirational signage and live music. And of course the hundreds of volunteers, dozens of police, and the emergency medical assistant teams, without whom, no races would be walked or run. Money is raised for charity; confidence is raised in one’s own ability through training and execution; lives are changed through challenging one’s self to take a chance.
As a non athletic person I was introduced to the power of exerting oneself in the company of others, whether for a community cause or for a personal goal. The ripple effects go way beyond what I would have thought possible. People get fitter; depression often lessens; other new habits become easier to stick with; friendships are formed and stories become part of family and friend lore. “Remember when…”
Best of all, from my point of view, all are welcome in these races.
Every single age and body type. I used to assume that to take part in something like this you had to be a certain type. One introduction to a race weekend, and those ideas are soon vanquished. People in wheelchairs; people using walkers; people who are blind, along with those who have other challenging conditions. I almost forgot the relay teams. A chance to participate without doing the whole race yourself. It is as egalitarian as I have seen, with accommodations made to help anyone wanting to participate.
I am writing about this because all across small town North America, you will find shorter events that people can participate in. It isn’t just about these big weekends. Shorter events are common. Family walk/runs. Fund raisers that are active rather than traditional bake sales. The community improves when multi-generational people, get outside and participate in some event, and maybe have a picnic afterwards. Being outdoors and moving our bodies, even in the slow lane, improves almost everything.
So what’s next? Part of living well at any age is taking care of the basics. Moving our bodies and spending time with others is part of that. For me personally, the next steps are strength training and flexibility. We all want to preserve our functional strength – the strength that helps us get through our daily lives and do what needs doing. As we age, it becomes vital and if we haven’t started we had best get going. Our bodies are so amazing, and although I have neglected my body for seven months, my body still wants to cooperate. Consequently I now want to lend a hand to my body.
Therefore, my new physical goal is to do what I can to improve my core strength. I found a set of basic exercises that I can begin doing three times a week. I upped my chances of success by agreeing to do them with a buddy. Despite the fact that we don’t live in the same city, we can report in to each other from the same page. It may be ideal to have a gym and a trainer but it isn’t always in the budget.
Why all this talk on exercise?
We are designed to move, just like we need good food and water. We do not, however, need to be action figures or marathoners. Moving our bodies helps pretty much everything that ails us. It can be as simple or as complicated as we choose. It can be gentle and slow; it can be fun and it feels great! Moving our bodies is good medicine. In general, the best exercise is the one you will do. Don’t overlook it.
In sickness and in health and in all ages we need to do what we can to be strong and flexible. As a result, most conditions like cancer and heart disease do better with exercise. (Even a little bit.) Nevertheless, always talk to your physician first before exercising, especially, if you have been sedentary or you are living with a chronic condition.
Time slips through our fingers, and there is no sense regretting what we haven’t done. Start where you are is always the best policy.
Note 1:) This past Sunday in Halifax, was near perfect weather. Yeah! That was a bonus.
Note 2:) Many thanks to my cousins Heather, Sonya and Barb. You are great sports, wonderful company and I am glad that we are related.
Note 3:) Don’t worry, this is the end of my exercise soap box for awhile. Although, I do want to slip in the great benefit of dancing, for those so inclined.
Note 4:) I love the notes and comments you kindly post and email. Always, I appreciate your showing up week after week. With appreciation and warm regards, Trudy