Although I would love to have a more active lifestyle full of club sports, swimming, scuba diving, hiking and biking, right now it’s not super do-able for us. Between it still being winter-ish and the fact that I’m fairly uncoordinated outside of swimming, running around the neighborhood is a health risk rather than a benefit. Not an exaggeration – last year when we were living in Boston, I almost broke my ankle stepping off of a sidewalk. As a paltry replacement, I go to the gym in our apartment building and use the treadmill. Just me and a big ole’ conveyor belt. It’s kind of like replacing fruit with a vitamin; there’s no taste, you just take it with water.
To keep my brain occupied while I walk up a never-ending hill, I’ll listen to podcasts like “What You Missed in History Class” or “Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Show” – both awesome by the way. If that’s not enough to distract me, I’ll switch over to music. If that’s still not enough, I lie to myself. “Just five more minutes and then I’m done” until I’m actually done. Although the lie doesn’t really distract me, it keeps me from hitting the off button. I know that there are also super popular apps like Zombies, Run!, and I might give them a try too. After watching a few episodes of The Walking Dead, I think I’d probably find it motivating. Anyway, I try to do this at least a few times a week, if not five, cause you know, apples don’t really cut it at the doctor’s anymore.
If I wiggle out of walking on that damn hamster wheel, though, I’ve found another solid way to get exercise and help people at the same time. Last month, Josh and I volunteered with an organization called Earth Corps. A large part of their mission revolves around “[restoring] natural areas around the Puget Sound region” and we volunteered to remove invasive plants at an old boy scout camp. To me, this sounded like a solid day of weeding and I was more concerned about how I was going to tell the weeds from the plants than the muscles I was going to use. Turns out, we would be tearing out blackberry bushes so no fear of misidentification there. For about five hours, we lopped, dug out and piled long, thin spiky arms and roots in a small section of the park.
You might be suspicious when I say this, but it was a lot of fun. We were in a small group of about ten to fifteen people of all ages from all over the Puget Sound. Josh and I use parks a lot so it felt good to be able to contribute in a small way towards their upkeep. We’d do it again even though we’re still picking the mud off of our shoes a month later.
Obviously, volunteering as exercise isn’t do-able on a daily basis when I’m already having trouble dragging myself to the gym for a fifteen or twenty minute walk/run. But it is a fun reminder to get creative and that, once the weather’s nicer, the outdoor options for exercise really skyrocket.
If I’m having a bad day, if I’m bored or angry or stressed, exercise is almost always the answer. Or at least, it’s a better answer than whipping up a batch of no-egg, no-bake cookie dough – which I maybe did Saturday night while Winston serenaded us with his “No Cone” song. Side note, the Cone of Shame is also known officially as an ‘E-Collar’ because it resembles an Elizabethan ruff. This has given me almost endless entertainment because I’m starting to look at our dog like he’s a Wishbone character.
Back to exercise. As much as I detest tricking myself into it, once it’s all over I feel a million times better. Running, walking, swimming, biking – just tag on “ing” at the end and go get some. You’ll feel better, it’s science.