Get moving!

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Heavy snowfall in Ft. Wayne (2014)
Heavy snowfall in Ft. Wayne (2014)

It’s gone.

By noon the snow on our yard was gone. Well, 99 percent gone.

I imagine the melting happened faster in our back yard, which is a huge hill. Not a trace of snow on the roof of the garden house at the top of the hill.

Unless it rains this evening and then scatters ice on the street to the park, I plan to be headed to the park early tomorrow morning.

I may even attempt jogging a block or so, just to see whether the stress fracture on my left foot has healed.

But I’m realistic. This still is January. It’s northern Indiana. There’s bound to be a return of snow. That means I’ll be forced to get my walking at Glenbrook mall, on the other side of the city.

I don’t mind driving a few miles to get exercise. For some reason, though, I do find walking through the mall in the early morning boring.
At least it’s boring until I’ve walked an hour and head for the bookstore.

On my way home, I stopped at Kroger’s to pick up a few items. And just as I’m was about to join the line at the checkout, I saw Tom, a former neighbor, retired as the head of the city’s Credit Counseling agency.

Tom and I have always been friends. Moreover, we share the same birthday year, 1938, and the same birthday month, August.

Somehow our visit turned to the topic of exercise. He confessed that he’s not as faithful at a good, brisk walk as he’d like to be. I supposed I encouraged him. But I didn’t scold or preach.

Every person, I’ve known for years, has to find his or her own reason to exercise. Every person has to find his or her own motivation to make it a daily habit.

Earlier at the bookstore, and later at Kroger’s, I thumbed through a couple of magazines that features articles on muscle building and exercise. I didn’t buy any magazines. I don’t need more advice.

In fact, I probably could write the articles myself. I suppose that’s true for a lot of people. It might well be the case for my friend and former neighbor Tom.

In the meantime, I am missing the daily jog in the park. I asked my physical therapist when I could try jogging again. He advised I give my foot a few more weeks to heal fully. I’ll definitely follow his advice. I’ve always had a healthy respect for experts.

I should consider myself lucky. In know that. In case it gets icy, I can get to the mall to walk. In Washington and New York these days I’d be stuck shoveling snow or pushing cars out of snowbanks. Photographs on the front pages and film on the TV newscasts tell the story.

To be sure, shoveling and pushing cars constitute exercise. But there’s a reason the health magazines don’t feature the benefits. Of course, even where I live, with only traces of snow on the ground, the winter of 2016 isn’t close to giving us the final chapter.

Who knows? Next week, we might have enough snow to tempt me to get out my cross-country skis.

Winter in my part of the world is just a barrel of surprises.

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A walk in the woods

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redwoodpecker
I don’t recall ever seeing a red-bellied woodpecker on my daily four-mile hike through Foster Park. But there he was today, between my path and the woods along the river.┬áSeeing that bird drew my attention to others along the way, not only sparrows but also quite a few robins.

I soon forgot about keeping up my usual pace and began wondering what the heck robins were doing this far north in Indiana. I don’t believe I ever noticed robins this late in the season.

If robins have been venturing this far north in the Midwest, this late in the year, what’s the meaning of the ancient expression from these parts in the spring – “first robin”?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have that much interest to conduct a computer search on the subject. My guess is that robins hang around these days until the weather turns much colder.

Until yesterday, it had been unseasonably warm here. Now I don’t necessarily attribute that to global warming, although I’m sure the climate scientists haven’t made up this stuff.

(There’s lots more evidence of global warming than evidence for the existence of God. But that’s for another blog entry.)

But here we are, just days before Christmas, and we’ve yet to see the first snow. Maybe flakes fell during the night. Right now, it’s cloudy enough and cold enough to snow.

What I did notice on my walk through the park this morning – besides the woodpecker- was fewer walkers. Did I miss them because I headed out too early? Or did the cold snap scare them off?

I’m too addicted to this morning walking routine to let cold weather stop me. I’ll go out if it’s zero or even below. Of course, I have clothes for the cold. If there’s a bit of snow or ice on the pavement, I’ll strap my spikes on my shoes.

Now if the snow is five or six inches deep, I’ll shovel the driveway and head for a walk at the mall on the city’s north side. It’s a good thing I usually can walk in the park through the winter. I would really miss the outdoors.

Also, I find exercising at a gym to be too boring to tempt me to join that alternative. In any case, I believe my daily walk, push-ups and other exercises are keeping me fit and alive at age 77. Moreover, my routine does wonders for my mood.

Most of the time, if I’m not downright happy, I’m quite content. I suppose I’m as content as that woodpecker that greeted me in the park this morning.

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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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