I was athletic in school. I was not the best and it was hard to live up to my sister’s success, but I often stayed active throughout the year. Once I left for college, going to the gym or running was never a high priority, even if I worked at a gym. The drive to pick it back up left me when I stopped exercising frequently. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I’m finding it hard to become motivated and enjoy the daily exercise once again.
After my surgeries, I was told to limit my activity (which in my case was never a problem.) Ripping the sutures or rupturing a muscle was never on the to-do list anyway. However, even if I was out of shape, I hiked the hills and completed the occasional mud obstacle course; with my husband assisting me over the difficult obstacles that required upper body strength. Being active between my diagnosis and surgeries, my husband believes, is the major factor in my easy recovery. I needed to start pushing myself to get out of the house and be active again. To do that, I needed to find something I enjoyed.
Hiking has been, by far, the best activity I could imagine. Yes, some of those trails are torturous in the distance and elevation gain, but the destination is always worth it. We often hike in the mountains of North Central Washington. Sitting by the hidden gem of a lake among the Cascades or a roaring stream for a break provides a serene picture. Taking the time to relax in such a setting can be extremely calming and provides a sense of peace. I may risk the chance encounter of snakes and bears, or the pesky bite of a mosquito, but to me, it is completely worth the trip. Plus, I have the opportunity to take some amazing pictures and share them with all of you.
Walking the neighborhood or parks is another activity we enjoy in our household. Even though this may be more of a leisurely stroll compared to the inclines on our hikes, we still feel walking for half an hour to an hour could provide enough of a cardiovascular benefit, especially if you pick up your pace. Taking the dog for a walk with us has become a two-folded activity.
The health benefits of yoga have been all over the internet recently. Reducing inflammation is one of the many benefits. Modifying poses if you’re a beginner may be necessary. Modifying for your stage of treatments may be even more necessary. I have slowly started to get into yoga. Some of the poses that require pectoral muscles are difficult to hold, especially since mine were cut for my implants. Utilizing modifications help ease that difficulty. Listen to your body. It will let you know when you are doing too much or something wrong.
Bike riding has been something I have wanted to take up for a while. I see biker riders having the time of their life while either on the dirt trails in the hills or on the paved trails around town. There are a few biking groups in our community dedicated solely to women. There might be one in your area too!
I’ve never been a dancer, since I lack both rhythm and coordination. However, shaking “my groove thing” in the privacy of my home, or even in a class with my girlfriends is a way to not only gain cardiovascular health, but to have fun and lift spirits all around.
One of the best activities I have found is playing with the kids. If my daughter wants to go outside to kick the soccer ball around, I’m all for it. Chasing her around the field trying to steal the ball has become a fun game. Even playing tag or Duck, Duck, Goose gets your heart pumping.
I am unable to end this article without mentioning one of our favorite winter activities. Snow shoeing provides an amazing workout. Buying a cheap pair of snow shoes, setting off into the snowcapped mountain to find a Christmas tree, and enjoying that cold winter air has become some of our fondest memories.
While this is just a small list of activities to keep you active, there is a whole world of fun exercises to explore. Choose one to try for a week. If you don’t think it’s for you, then move on. If you find out you love it, then keep at it. If you involve your family and friends, the more likely you will stick to the routine. There’s nothing better than enjoying an activity when you are surrounded by laughter from the one’s you love.
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