It’s still exercise

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Glenbrook Square - courtyard
Glenbrook Square – courtyard

Look, I’m not an idiot.

I absolutely must walk a few miles every day.

But at age 77, I’m not taking any chances of slipping on the snow or ice.

I’ve had a broken elbow. I’m not interested in a reprise by hiking through the park when the pavement is partly covered with frozen stuff.

So, as I’ve done for years under such weather conditions, I headed for Glenbrook mall on the other side of the city.

Three things I’m sure of. First, no matter how early, it will be open, dry and safe for walkers. Second, I won’t be the only geezer walking briskly around this half-mile route.

Third, my mall walk will be the most boring thing I do all day.

For exercise, the mall just can’t compete with the park. Yes, even in the winter when the leaf-bare trees have taken on a ghostly aura. Yes, even when the temperature is near zero.

All I ask is dry pavement. Then I head out, dressed in multiple layers of pants, sweatshirts and scarves. Believe it or not, Foster Park is still alive as Julie Andrews might well sing with the sound of music.

Sparrows, squirrels and a few crows never fail to greet me.

After such an outing, I return back to our ranch house tired but exhilarated.

Now my physical therapist advises me that I can resume jogging in March. I can tell my stress fractured heel remains tender.

Yet despite my dislike of driving across town to walk at the mall, I’m still thankful I’ve got a place to walk. It’s safe. Like all shopping malls, our mall has a huge bookstore.

I got 30 percent off the new John Irving novel. So this otherwise unwelcome trek, had an nice bonus. I see it’s nearly time for the PBS New Hour.

All in all, despite the snow and ice, I’d have to say it’s been a good day.

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A walk on the wild side

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Here we go again. Winter. Yes even before Thanksgiving this year. I don’t mind the snow, which arrived Sunday, after I had walked a few miles in the nearby park.

What I don’t care for are the icy streets. To be sure, the city had cleared the main streets by early morning. Yet it looked to me that our neighborhood still had remnants of the yesterday’s snowfall on the streets.

Now if the streets were covered with snow, I could put boots on. Or if the snow isn’t deep, I just attach cleats to my running shoes. Today’s streets lacked enough snow for either boots or cleats.

Look, it’s not as if today’s is some kind of freak event of late fall. I’m prepared. And I have an option. The option is Glenbrook shopping center – on the north side of the city. I live on the south side.

It wasn’t so cold this morning that I had to let the Honda warm up before I headed north. I did turn the seat heater on before leaving the house.

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Well, as I expected, I found the old gang at the mall. I don’t have names. But I know many of the faces. These mall walkers might very well do all their walking at the mall no matter the weather, although I did greet a couple of guys I usually see in Foster Park.

Today, I walked for an hour. I kept up a pretty brisk pace, although I probably slowed a bit when I hit the 45-minute mark. I rationalize this by reminding myself that I already had performed 50 push-ups and other floor exercises at home.

Plus, I figured that by tomorrow the neighborhood streets and the street around the park would be clear and I could safely walk my usual route.

Today, there was an extra bonus that came with walking at the mall. Yes, it’s not quite Thanksgiving. But merchants know what they’re doing. Santa wasn’t there yet. All the other trappings of Christmas had been put up.

Reindeer and pretend elves, Santa’s sleigh and a spot marked to tell parents where they could have their kids line up to take a turn on Santa’s lap. It was all there, minus the kids who crowd around Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

I stopped briefly to enjoy the display. To be honest, when it comes to Christmas, I’m a child at heart.

I don’t want to hear complaints about how the stores seem to decorate for Christmas earlier and earlier each year. As far as I’m concerned, we could celebrate the holiday year round.

Mainly, today’s main issue was the snow and how I had to get my walk in at the mall. But this break in my exercise routine let me silently applaud the other walkers, several no doubt older than my 77 years.

Your doctor will give you the same advice. Most of them, though, don’t have the long years of experience that I have. I understand the resistance, the excuses, the struggle to get moving. You don’t need a health magazine or handbook. You probably don’t even need to clear your plan with your family doctor.

Just put one foot ahead of another and don’t stop. Take a water bottle along. Enjoy the scenery and the new friends you’ll greet. You couldn’t be giving yourself a nicer gift.

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Judge at the mall walk

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WEBsENIORSWalkers11Lately, I’ve been remembering a film that featured dead people, all dressed in white gowns, walking single-file around and around, without expression, with no particular end.

I think actor Albert Brooks was a main character. Beyond that I have no other memory of the film. Well, it probably was featured at Cinema Center, a downtown theater that often features art films.

What brought this to mind has been my morning hour-long walk at Glenbrook Shopping Center, on the city’s north side. The only reason I’m doing this walk at the shopping mall is that it’s been too cold, nearly zero in the morning lately and too icy to comfortably jog in nearby Foster Park.

I confess to being a bit grouchy to be forced to walk at this mall. To be sure, jogging in the park takes me past the same trees, the same tees and greens of Foster Park golf course, the same clubhouse, the same tennis courts every day. But I’m usually following all this routine as if for the first time. I’m celebrating as I greet familiar faces, which include the “guys,” older, black men who greet me by first name.

Walking at the mall is a different story. Though I recognize regular walkers, I rarely see anybody I know. I have nobody to visit with. The scene only changes as the Christmas shopping season approaches. Then, a fast walker, I’m dodging browsers and people pushing small children in pretend fire engines.

By the third time around the mall, the boredom of passing the same clothing stores, gift shops and fast-foods at the food court starts to get to me. Yes, I’m grouchy. But the greater challenge comes as I see one person after another who appears much younger than I and yet obviously much overweight.

Passing such out-of-shape, out-of-breath walkers confronts me with one of the most important lessons of one’s life. You can find the lesson in the Bible. To be specific, you can find it in Matthew 7, verse 1. Most of us have heard the lesson: “Judge not that you be not judged.” That’s from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

I certainly came by my temptation to judge naturally. Mom and Dad were among the most judgmental parents in northwest Ohio. It’s a variation on the song from “South Pacific,” which says, “You have to be carefully taught to hate.” Likewise, you can be carefully taught to judge. So, following Mom and Dad’s example, I tend to find fault. I tend to fix on other people’s faults and shortcomings.

Back at the mall, the truth is I don’t have to judge. In my own mind, I can compliment the other walkers for doing something good for themselves. I can compliment them for doing something good for their health.

Meantime, I can smile, say hello and wish fellow walkers a great day. In other words, I can remind myself of how my judging just puts me in a grouchy mood. There’s nothing positive or good about it. I then can feel liberated to celebrate my fellow citizens. Here they are, caring enough about themselves and their families to get out of the house and exercise.

Here I am in my late seventies. To be sure, I want to be healthy. I want to be in good shape and able to jog, even if at a snail’s pace. But I sure don’t want to spend my last years on this earth a crabby old man nobody wants to be around and who contributes nothing constructive to the world and to his fellow human beings.

Today’s forecast is for near zero temperatures for the next day or so. I imagine the park still won’t be clear of icy spots. So no jogging for me tomorrow and maybe for the next few days. So after I’ve done a few push-ups, I’ll head for the shopping mall and join the other walkers. I’ll leave the judging to the other geezers.

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