Indoors or Outdoors?

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Wellness Wednesday

Indoor or Outdoor?

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Today we’re joining Wellness Wednesday, hosted by Natalie the Explorer, which takes place the first Wednesday of each month. The prompt for March is ‘Indoor or Outdoor Fitness?’

I confess to feeling a bit of a confusion in answering this question that seems so simple. My initial response is hollering out “Outdoors”, fist raised in the air in support of my favorite place to be. But yet, I truly don’t exercise outdoors all that much.

I love to putter in the garden, take hikes and be out in nature. But to exercise out when it’s (shudder) cold – or too hot – it’s not going to happen. I think I’ll save the cardio workouts for indoor facilities.

Besides, as I learned from my younger sister a year or two back, those gentle walks around the block, the hikes in nature where I stop frequently to bask in the glorious sights and scenery aren’t giving me the cardio work out I need. I argued that point with her when she first informed me that I needed a workout that gave me cardio benefits. But I’m on my feet all day at work, back and forth from the stockroom out to aisles, in constant motion. “I put on miles a day in the stores. I’m getting cardio,” I reiterated. “No, you’re not,” she argued back.

All it took was one 30 minute workout at a kickboxing facility. I had to concede that I’d lost that debate. I had to eat crow and admit that my little sister was right.

After I discovered that now in my (ahem) older years, I’m battling with blood pressure that switched from too low to now too high, I know that the cardio benefits are necessary for me. I am not a fan of strenuous exercise, but you’d be amazed what I will do to avoid taking medications. So, at least for this point of my life journey – indoors it is.

However…the question was about indoor or outdoor fitness. And, at least to my mind, fitness implies more than just physical health and wellbeing. To my thinking, fitness also includes the mind and soul components. And for those – a healthy and well balanced disposition and attitude, and a strong, personal spiritual practice – then outdoors is definitely my ‘drug of choice.’

Hmmm…so, 400 words later and I haven’t really answered the question. I guess my final answer would have to be:

It depends.

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Kickboxing? At 60?

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“Kickboxing? Are you crazy?”

At least I didn’t ask – Are you out of your ever-loving mind? Those words are closer to the actual ones that bolted through my brain when Mary asked me if I wanted to try out a new exercise activity with her.

“I found a free ten-day pass for a place in Keller. Ten days, all the sessions you want…for free!” She dangled the free part in front of me, knowing that I enjoy a chance to save money when I can.

What Mary didn’t understand was that I’m not so much into the physical exercise part of the equation. She’s spent most of the past year or so that we’ve worked together participating in several different exercise regimes. 5K walks – I can’t count how many she and her husband have finished. The numbers a lot larger than the two that I’ve done in my entire life. Camp Gladiator is another one that she’s done for some time – exercising in different parking lots with groups of people, using weights and balls, and all sorts of nefarious torture devices.

Nope. Not for me. I’m more of a yoga gal. Quiet. Serene. Slow movements. Soft, mellow music drifting through the background. Sweet and spicy incense wafting through the air. Peace and zen. That’s me. That’s my kind of physical exercise.

Not punching, kicking, aggressive fighting movements. Hard hitting rock and roll reverberating throughout the room. Sweat pouring down my face. Heart pounding. The smacks of gloves hitting punching bags echoing about the room.

Never in a million years did that image even tempt me. You probably couldn’t have even paid me to give kickboxing a try.

But, Mary dangled ‘free’ in front of me, and I grabbed for the bait. Besides, it was spending time with a friend. I decided to humor her. After all, what did I have to lose, besides a few hours of my time? And it was only 30-minute workouts each visit. That made it easy to schedule into a full week. I’d try it out. I’d go with her a few times and after the ten days were up, if I didn’t like it, I never had to try it again.

Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with kickboxing. On the first visit even.

Now to be honest, I didn’t embrace this new activity while I was there. We met at 9Round Keller, where there’s nine stations set up and we all rotate between the stations – only three minutes at each one.

Piece of cake.

Ha!

Some of those three minute segments were the longest and hardest three minutes I’d endured since…well, since I don’t know when. My heart pounded so hard on some of the stations I thought it would burst through my chest. Jump roping? For three minutes? I discovered it wasn’t possible. I made it about a minute before I had to stop and gather my breath. I found out that jump roping isn’t as easy when you’re not a ten-year old girl with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Things had changed in the past fifty years.

By the time we left, I barely dragged myself through the door. I probably would have tried to strangle poor Mary. Except I couldn’t muster up the energy or the gumption to move my arms towards her throat. Getting my feet out the door and moving in the direction of the car was the sole goal in my mind.

Mary offered to buy me something to drink at Starbucks. I think it was a consolation prize for going through with the horrendous torment of the past thirty minutes. I followed her down the street and enjoyed sitting – just sitting, no activity required, while enjoying an icy concoction with green tea and fresh berries. An hour later as we went to leave, I learned that it was even harder to move my legs. That three minute session with the squats involved? I would relive that painful experience in so many ways over the next three days. I found out later that night that bending to clean cat boxes has never caused such agony. I almost joked with Mary about having her carry me out to my car. But, I was having trouble being humorous about this whole kickboxing thing.

And then, on the drive home, about half way between the Starbucks and my house, I realized that I felt good. Tired, yes. Sore, exquisitely so. But despite the painful parts of the afternoon – I felt marvelous.

By the time I got home, I’d already decided. I’m continuing this.

Three days later I joined Mary and two of her other friends for another morning at my new favorite place. Thank goodness they switch up the activities of each station every day. I still had to struggle with the jump roping part, but at least the dreaded squats weren’t on the itinerary for the day. Again, by the time I got home I was marveling about how good I felt. I felt better than I had for months. Usually, getting home after a long day I have to sit and close my eyes for about thirty minutes. That night I was rocking around the house. I was in motion and getting things done. By bedtime I was still zooming around.

Another session the next morning kept me fired up.

I remember a while back, my sister and I were talking about exercise. I told her that I didn’t need to exercise. I’m on my feet all day at work. My work days, depending on what season we’re in run from five to ten hour days. All on my feet. All moving. Never still. “That’s not cardio,” my sister replied. “That doesn’t get your heart rate up.”

Well, darn. Don’t you hate it when you have to admit that your younger sister was right about something? Obviously she was and I was lacking in the cardio department. Even more obviously, it was something my body needs.

The free ten day pass is over. Now I’m in the wait-three-more-days-before-payday mode so I can go join. We’re past the free point. Now a little cash is involved for me to continue with my unexpected new obsession. But this one I can easily justify. Seeing how much better I felt after only a few sessions, I know that this is best for my health. I figure that I can either shell out a few dollars now, for kickboxing…or I can pay it out later – in much larger amounts, to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. The choice is mine and I’ll pick paying now rather than supplementing a doctor’s Porsche payment later on down the road.

And the best part? It’s not an either or. I don’t have to lose being a Yoga gal to participate with this more active routine. I can do both. Two sessions of kickboxing a week, with a day of the peace and zen of yoga. Then my heart, circulation, and body is happy, and my emotions and spirit are blissful too. It’s the best of both worlds. I’ll be the healthiest, most zenful 60-year old bopping around this town.

Now, just to remember which hand is jab and which hand is cross.

X: X-ercise to Relieve Stress

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X: X-ERCISE

Yes, I’m fudging in looking for an ‘X’ word for the A to Z Blog Challenge.

Exercise is an important component of combating stress, something that far too many of us find in our lives. And no, it doesn’t have to be a life consuming, five days a week at the gym, working towards next triathlon exercise. A simple walk around the block (with your spouse or the family dog is even better), or even dancing around the house while you clean or cook dinner, will give you stress-reducing benefits.

The Mayo Clinic has this to say about exercise and stress:

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Have you ever used exercise to alleviate stress in your life? Do you have a favorite exercise activity that you like?

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