by Madeline Sharples
My aging body will turn seventy-five years old in less than a month. And I have to brag. I’m training for a walk to raise awareness and help prevent suicide – a mission in my life since the suicide death of my son – that will cover 16 to 18 miles in Boston the night of June 27, 2015. Today I walked ten miles – only breaking up the walk for a brief stop for breakfast before walking the last mile home.
Even though I’ve exercised for years, I felt because of my age I had to start training early and often. I workout at the gym first thing every morning by doing one hour on the elliptical trainer – I upped the time from 45 minutes a few weeks ago – and some weight exercises and Yoga stretches. Then toward the end of the day at least three times a week, I walk a couple miles to the beach and back home. It’s really a nice way to end my day before getting ready to cook dinner. Fortunately, I live in a land of endless summer, so weather issues don’t get in my way.
I also wear a Fitbit on my waistband to help me keep track of how many steps and miles I do each day. I’ve found keeping track whether it’s electronically and/or writing down what kind of exercise I do every day is very motivating. My steps recorded on my Fitbit synch right to my mobile phone, so I can keep track no matter where I am.
Another way to get motivated is to have an exercise buddy. When I first started my regular exercise program back in the 1980s, I took an aerobics class almost every day. Well, I knew a couple of people in the class who would keep tabs of absences. They would give the absentee a hard time the next time he/she showed up in class. I had one particular friend who took it upon herself to make sure I came to class, and I am very grateful. I don’t think I would exercise as regularly as I do now if it hadn’t for her gentle prodding.
I friend, who will walk with me in Boston, called to ask about my walk training program and what it’s based on. One of things I told him in preparing for a long walk like this is we never have to walk the entire number of miles while training. When I did the Avon 3-day walk back in 1998, in which we walked twenty miles a day for three consecutive days, I never walked over twelve miles in any training day. That’s my theory here. If I can comfortably get to ten to twelve miles in a day now, I know I’ll be able to do the entire walk in June. After ten miles today I felt great. My gait didn’t slow down, I had no aches and pains, and the new shoes I bought last week stayed very comfortable and supported my purpose.
I hope you’ll challenge yourself physically as you age. We’ve heard time and time again that exercise is good for us. It sure works for me.
Madeline is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Dream of Things) and Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press). She co-edits The Great American Poetry Show anthology series and wrote the poetry for The Emerging Goddessphotography book. See more at http://www.MadelineSharples.com