Trying to Stay in Shape

Judging from the sheer number of posts, you might guess I spend most of my life on vacation and birding. As much as I’d like that to be accurate, it’s not.  Actually, we’ve spent far too little time vacationing for the last three years.  

I suspect I might have spent most of my time sitting on my exercise ball staring at the computer monitor, but, mercifully, I have no way of tracking that. 

I do, however, have a way of measuring the time I’ve spent exercising, thanks to my Apple Watch, my iPhone and an app.  I was pleasantly shocked at the results after installing “Fitness Stats” a few months ago.  If I’d been told at the beginning of the year that I would have to walk 817 miles, much less 1,749,187 steps, to stay in shape I would have thought that was an impossible goal and might have given up before I started.

Since I have loved walking as long as I can remember, the 10,940 miles of walking and (sort of) running don’t particularly surprise me (especially since it includes most of our hiking miles). It’s only recently that I discovered that Apple had added a “hiking” category so the numbers in that category are way too low.  

I don’t love exercise, per se, but I don’t absolutely hate it, and I’m willing to exercise regularly so that I can continue to hike and bird.   

The largest missing category, perhaps because this app was written before Apple added Tai Chi as a category, is Tai Chi.  Leslie helps lead a Tai Chi class M/W/F, and I also practice Qi Jong exercises at home semi-regularly. 

I regularly try to fit in either weight lifting or a half-hour walk while Leslie teaches Tai Chi Swords. When I was younger, stronger, and more flexible, I preferred Yoga to Tai Chi, and still fall back on it when my back is bothering me. Now I generally prefer Tai Chi’s gentler, more meditative approach to exercise.  So, a good part of those 320 exercise hours was probably devoted to Tai Chi.

I would like to believe some recent studies that indicate that “adults over 65 who did strength training two to six times per week lived longer than those who did less than two, according to study author Dr. Bryant Webber, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” but, considering that I nearly died of throat cancer at 57 when I might have been in the best shape of my life, hiking up to 25 miles per day in the Columbia Gorge and The Cascades three days a week with Bill Wastradowski, I don’t have much faith that being in shape will ward off cancer or other ailments.

I have always tried to stay in shape, but now that I’m retired I spend more time exercising than I ever have before, except, perhaps, when I was in the army and played football, baseball, and even some basketball in addition to doing PT six days a week. 

I’m not totally unaware of the irony that despite all this exercise I’m probably half as strong as I used to be while exercising twice as much.  

I’d be tempted to say that my time might be better spent reading all the books I have sitting in my den if my mind didn’t seem half as sharp as it used to be.