Active, Schmactive. At Least I’m Exercising Something!
By Donna Emmary
I have a friend who bicycles with her grandchildren every weekend. She says she’s never felt more alive and energetic.
I have another friend who hikes with his retired buddies along the Blue Ridge Parkway. He swears that he’s healthier and has more get-up-and-go because of it.
And, there’s the neighbor who leads water aerobics classes for senior citizens. She insists that she looks forward to the weekly sessions and benefits from them.
I hate all of those folks.
Yes, I’m overweight. Yes, my knees are weak and my back hurts. And, yes, I’m not as spry as I used to be. The commonly-accepted point of view – which is freely-shared to the point of exasperation, let me just add – is that I would lose unhealthy weight, strengthen my core muscles, and increase my strength and stamina if I would just get active. Power walk at a track, they say. Swim laps at the Y, they say. Hike paths at local parks, they say. Well, mind your own business is what I say!
I’m not completely stationary…parts of me move around plenty. When I reach into the cupboard to get a bowl for my nightly ice cream, my arms jiggle like crazy. When I get up out of my recliner after reading the newspaper, my belly flops up and down in rhythm with my steps. And, when I walk the length of the room to get crab dip from the refrigerator, my thighs positively dance with gay abandon. So, parts of me are active and that should count!
Of course, if all my judgmental friends who are so self-satisfied because they’ve invested in athletic wear and workout equipment and organic health food could bring themselves to think outside the physical box, I would gladly explain to them about my own – rather strenuous, let me just say – workout routine.
First of all, I exercise my mind by reading about countries and cultures and traditions that are unfamiliar to me but are important to other people. A healthy mental exercise routine should incorporate continuing education about other religions, other ethnic histories, and other customs that support and comfort people who don’t live where I do.
I strengthen my critical thinking and decision-making skills by exposing myself to philosophies and political ideologies that differ from my own. A healthy intellectual exercise practice should include objectively entertaining beliefs and views that feel uncomfortable, but which can help sharpen our own attitudes or even change them.
And, I expand the possibility that I may be wrong about some things, there may be levels of soulfulness or awareness that I haven’t experienced, yet. A healthy spiritual exercise habit should embrace learning and experience from others who have soared to unexplored heights or dived to unfamiliar depths and can open our perceptions of life and living.
There you have it. My workout routine primarily involves mental, intellectual and spiritual muscles, but it works for me. So, peddle your bike, hike your mountains, jump into your pools. I’ll remain happily plump with my sharp mind, stimulating intellect, and open spirit … jiggly to the end!