The human body was never meant to be as inactive as we are today. In this day and age we have every convenience that allows us to use less and less of our bodies. Now of course we have great inventions that have saved us from injury-causing, backbreaking work, but its all the little things that have cumulatively added up to cause us to use our bodies less and less. Everything from drive-ups, escalators, elevators, the list is endless.
So how does this relate to you, my fellow paddler? Well it creates a situation where a lot of us just are not in the shape we need to be to do the things we want to do. So let’s look at ways to incorporate fitness into our daily routine. I here so often," I don’t have time to work out.” Sure, I agree. Life can be hectic, chaotic, and there are many things that can get in the way of working out and staying in shape. I am sure all of us can come up with many examples. But it still comes down to priorities. Do I have to give up some things to stay in the shape I am in? Sure. But one thing that we can do is to add exercise into our daily routine. It starts by looking at just about everything you do and asking yourself if there is a way you can make it more intense or challenging. Lets look at some examples of what I do:
1) Mowing the lawn. Its takes me about 45 minutes to mow my lawn by hand and I GPS’ed it at 1.75 miles. This is something that has to be done on regular basis, and yes it already is being physically active, but can we make it more? My house sits on a slope. To make mowing the grass harder, I mow up and down instead of across. I also push the mower up the hill walking fast or even sprinting sometimes. I have even been seen wearing a backpack with weight while mowing the grass. Again, it has to be done, so why not get the most out of it? This keeps the legs strong and keeps me in overall shape for backpacking and hauling a heavy boat up a steep hill at the takeout.
2) Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. At home I even sprint up the stairs.
3) Working out while watching TV. It’s taking up more of our time. We are all addicted, so might as well do some exercising during it. You can do whatever. Change it up. You can do a weight routine, squats, time on a treadmill, etc.
4) Playing at the park: When I take the kid to the park, I do bodyweight exercises on the gym equipment while they are playing. I’ll do pull-ups, body rows, push ups, step-ups, calf raises, etc. Now the other parents sitting there look at me weird, but who cares.
5) Playing in the pool. I talked about doing paddling specific torso rotations in the pool, so just figure on doing these every time you get in the pool. Yes these can be done subtlety. For example, lets say you're at the public pool with the kids. You can wedge yourself into the corner of the pool, arms up on the edge holding yourself and you can rotate your legs left and right, activating the core, specifically the oblique muscles, thus simulating the rotation you would do while paddling.
6) Cleaning the house. Throw the backpack on again. It has to be done, like cutting the grass, so might as well make the most out of it.
7)Misc: incorporate little things into the routine of daily living. Going to the fridge to grab a drink? Do a set of walking lunges there and back. Need to stretch and cant find the time? Do your needed stretches while checking your emails in the morning.
So you see, there really is no excuse for not being in shape. It really comes down to priorities. Sure we are all busy and that’s why I do things like these. I don’t have time to get in the gym and honestly nor do I really like going to the gym. I would much rather be outside exercising, even if its in the winter, but what keeps me motivated to exercise is the activities that I enjoy. I have said this in previous posts, but I will say it here again: I never want to not be able to do the things I want to do. I never want to find myself in a situation where I have to limit my activity because I am not in shape for it. Its as simple as that.
The examples I have above don’t fit for everyone all the time. I completely understand just sitting down and watching TV, trying to relax from a busy day. Don’t think I do these every time, all the time. But it is about staying consistent. Remember, to stay in shape you have to consistently do an exercise to maintain the benefits of it. So if you can’t make the gym, try to figure out a few things you can do to incorporate fitness into your daily routine. It might just be that difference that gets you to your goals. It might be that difference that make that hike a little easier or that 16 mile river trip more enjoyable.