It is so easy to approach your health and fitness in fits and spurts and as a secondary priority, but that is not how it should be approached. I spent 21 years in the Marine Corps and got relatively “out of shape” even while I was in the Marine Corps. Too many hours working, sitting on the couch, or having fun. But the best times in my life have been when I put health and fitness first. Around 45 I started to worry about the Jim Fixx issue. He became an avid fitness and running advocate later in life (35) and died of a heart attack during a run at age 52. So I now try to approach fitness in three ways to avoid that. First I try to avoid the yo-yo syndrome, losing and gaining weight, getting into and falling out of shape. It is hard to maintain a constant level of fitness, but you have to set at least minimum standards for yourself. For me it is three work outs a week minimum. Second I try to avoid working out so intensely that I feel exhausted or like I’m pushing myself to failure. I work out hard, but if I start to feel like it is too much I stop and take a break. I’m not saying I don’t do aerobic exercise, but if I feel shaky, weak, or light-headed I stop. Finally I get regular checkups, watch my cholesterol, blood pressure, and pulse.
There are some changes that I need to make in order to be able to be able to get the most from my efforts. First I plan to work stretching into my workout in a bigger way too. I’ve had issues with flexibility and muscle cramping lately and believe that stretching will help me stay on a healthy track. Second I need more variety in my workout. I regularly do the same 10-12 exercises in a two-day rotation. So I’ll be looking for resources that help me expand my stretching routine and that increase the variety in my work outs.
Hiking has become a bigger part of my fitness routine in the last year. There are tons of local hikes, hiking groups, and I have family and friends that love to hike also. In addition to hiking locally I plan to add hiking to my vacation plans each year. This year I hiked in Yosemite in July and will do a Grand Canyon rim to rim hike the first week of October. It’s a great way to see the beautiful nature we have been blessed with. I love the challenge, the scenery, and the bonding that seems to happen naturally with outdoor adventures.
I love running but have had issues every time I’ve tried to start running over the last 3 years. So once I’ve increased my flexibility and overall fitness I will look for a way to gradually put running back into my fitness routine. I live less than a mile from the beach and love running by the water. I definitely crave a runner’s high and relish the time running gives me to think.
I hope to be able to continue fitness activities for the rest of my life to maintain my fitness and health so that I can continue to work and play for decades to come. I imagine that I will come back to other past interests like basketball and biking over time so that I have other activities to add to the mix. I also expect that I will find new interests, or begin to enjoy things that I’ve tried in the past but that have never caught on like golf and softball. A life can be fuller, more rewarding, and longer when you put health and fitness as a top priority. I plan to keep it near the top of my list.