On June 4, 2017, Harriette Thompson became the oldest woman to finish a half Marathon. She was 94 years old . . . NINETY-FOUR! On days when my hip is hollering at me (oh, how it can holler), I think maybe this is the last year I’ll be able to enjoy brisk exercise. I’ll have to figure out a gentler routine, maybe some yoga videos and hand weights or something. But then I see strong, older athletes like Ms. Thompson, and I figure I don’t have to give up vigorous workouts just yet.
In true minimalist style, I designed my workout routine to address the following two questions:
Q: What is important to me?
A: Good health is included in my list, so some form of exercise is a requirement. Other things on my list include:
•Spending time with Dear Husband.
•Taking good care of my high-energy canine.
•Enjoying the gift of nature.
•Nurturing a positive body image. Even a little bit of exercise improves body image according to research done at the University of Florida. (If you’re interested, you can read a summary of the research here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1219806/Exercising-improves-body-image–shifted-pounds.html.)
•Responsibly using my time.
•Taking care of my emotional health, and
•Responsibly using my space.
And, the second question:
Q: What is not important to me that I can de-emphasize or let go?
A: The latest activewear fashion. If I’m gonna get all sweaty and stinky, how the clothing moves and feels is a lot more important than how it looks or what celebrity endorses it. Other items on my not-important list include:
•Athletic competitions. Those who know me in real life might gasp at this because I was a youth athlete, a college athlete soon after Title IX was implemented, and a long time Masters athlete, but I’ve moved on, given up my gym membership, and minimalized my extracurricular activities.
•The minutiae of proper exercise routines like whether hammer curls are better than preacher curls.
•Spending time driving somewhere to workout, and
•Being part of a an exercise class that pumps and kicks and yells WOO! to the rhythm of upbeat music.
My resulting routine:
My minimalist exercise routine addresses both of the above questions and all of my particular answers. In short, I simply open the front door every day, leave my e-devices behind, and either:
•Go for a jog with my energetic hound. I get healthy exercise (so does the dog), beautiful views of the mountains, and fresh air scented with wildflowers, magnolias, or newly cut hay, depending on the season. Our jogs take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes, based on the distance and how often the dog wants to stop and investigate interesting smells in the tall grass. (There is nothing like gazing at the ocean-like waves of tall grass on the side of the road and seeing your dog’s happy tail bouncing along above it all.) Once a week I jog with my loyal workout partner instead, and she admittedly pushes me from a jog into a run, but it’s good to get pushed once in awhile.
•Go for a walk with DH plus the dog. Our romantic walks take anywhere from 30 to 75 minutes, depending on the route we choose.
I get in at least 14 miles of jogging per week and 6 miles of walking.
I’ve lived in apartments in the city and houses in mega subdivisions before living in this semi-rural area. Each location had its own charming views, like fascinating architecture of historic buildings or gleeful children playing at the bus stop. I don’t at all regret giving up my gym membership. Currently, this is the rewarding view I get at the end of every exercise session:
One final piece of my exercise routine:
To make my hip behave (so I can still be active at 94!), I pick two of my prescribed physical therapy exercises and do those on the floor every evening. They take about two minutes total, and I can do them during TV commercials. They require no commute to the gym, no group class, and no expensive or space-eating equipment. To fight age-related postural decline and upper body muscle atrophy, I also do a few shoulder, core, and upper back exercises. Like my hip exercises, these take only a few minutes to do, with no commuting, no class, and no equipment.
If you’d like to read more about the indomitable Harriette Thompson, check out this competitor.com article: http://running.competitor.com/2017/06/rock-n-roll-marathon-series/94-year-old-woman-breaks-half-marathon-world-record_164866.
And the disclaimer: I offer my exercise routine as an example of a personalized, minimalist routine and not as a recommendation. You would have to consider your own health and lifestyle needs and consult with your health care provider in determining what sort of routine is best for you.
Make this day even better. Consider:
- Check ahead on your calendar. Are there any birthdays or anniversaries or local art shows coming up? How about the signup deadline for a writing class at the community center? Don’t let these things sneak up on you.