It’s been drilled into us by now that we need to exercise, exercise, exercise – at least if we want to lead healthy, active lives beyond the age of 50. While “live fast, die young” was an attractive – if not lived-up to – mantra of my teenage years, passing on at 35 doesn’t look so attractive anymore.
There’s also the weight consideration. From what I’ve read, we will naturally gain weight as we age and our metabolisms slow (lovely), but if we weigh more than we did in high school we are much more likely to die a horrible death from some protracted and painful disease. (Seriously, health articles have become as dramatic and ineffective as terror alerts – what exactly does orange mean anyway?)
With all that in mind I attempt to exercise regularly. If I make it to the gym (rarely, given rain, parking and the desire to sleep in) my choice for plugging away at the 30+ minutes of daily required cardio is performed on the elliptical for maximum calorie burn in minimal time. For 30 minutes I “run” like a hamster on a wheel as fast as I can. At home,which let’s face it, is most of the time, I hit my treadmill and again plug away for 35-60 minutes depending on how much time is available and whether I’m run/walking or walk/walking. As I find many reasons to avoid this scenario, however, I’ve had to find tricky ways to stick exercise into my schedule.
I started with pilates – once a week for an hour, one-on-one with an instructor. That covers one day, but that one hour burns less than 200 calories, so while great for core, strength and stretch, and keeping up with my instructor’s entertaining social life, it’s not giving me a serious cardio workout.
Enter tennis. About 15 weeks ago, I signed up for tennis lessons. The lessons are through the Parks and Rec department and for the price of one pilates session, I get six, once a week, 1 hr and 15 minute lessons. The perk? Tennis is a serious workout. It engages all of the major muscle groups and during game play and even drills you’re running all over the place to get to the ball. So that little cardio requirement? Done.
I’ve also found it’s really, really fun. Unlike the elliptical or the treadmill, tennis feels like recess. It’s also social. Yes, you can practice with a ball machine, but playing with a friend or learning with a group guarantees you a better time, some friendly competition and face-to-face interaction, something that is becoming rare in the digital age. Lucky for me, my husband, lil sis and several friends play so on the weekend, if a court can be reserved (and getting an indoor court in Seattle in the winter is the equivalent of winning the lottery) I can work in another calorie busting tennis session.
If you’re not a natural exercise lover, find a sport, a dance class, anything that will keep you going back for more. Yes, we have to exercise, but we can at least have fun while we do it 😉