By Greg Illes
Exercise shouldn’t mean that you have to curl a telephone pole with your fellow Navy Seals (photo below). In fact, it can be done differently, with good effect.
Absolutely nobody is more tired than I am of being told to “get some exercise.” And I, along with many others, hate “exercise.” I am convinced that there is no single remedy that is more effective, and more reviled, than thrashing one’s body through some demonic routine for no other purpose than the pursuit of health.
That’s the real rub — typical exercise doesn’t accomplish anything right at the moment. The weights move up, then they move down again. The treadmill band goes around and around, and you walk for a half an hour — to nowhere. Pushups, jumping jacks, yada yada. Sure, it’s great for the body — but for many of us it simply aggravates the mind and spirit.
Sadly, as RVers, we tend to sit a lot. Sit and drive, sit and camp, sit and talk. So some exercise is really important to keep healthy and fit.
But wait. What if we were to make exercise an integral part of our daily life, woven into typical activities so that the movements actually accomplish something? This is the strategy that I embarked upon several years ago, and it’s had interesting results. I’ll give you a few simple examples that have worked well for me.
Walking — Walking on a treadmill is incipient torture. Walking to get somewhere is what our legs have evolved for, and it feels pretty good unless speed is important. I walk anywhere that I have the time for. I park at the far ends of parking lots instead of driving in circles looking for the closest spot to the store (probably saves time over looking for a spot). I especially seek hills to walk, because this is some of the best exercise there is, and I am often rewarded with a better view at the top of the hill.
Socks — Years ago, I began “trying to” put my socks on while standing on one foot. At first, I didn’t think it possible. It took me almost two weeks to get the hang of it. Now, every morning begins with a light stretch and two egret-style sessions. The difference in my stability while walking, especially in rough country, is simply amazing.
Saw or sand by hand — I’m one of those handy types, with always a project underway. Sure, I’ve got a ton of power tools, but I’ll hand-saw or hand-sand a work piece now and then just to make my muscles wake up.
Downtime fillers — Waiting for water to boil, swishing mouthwash for a minute, letting the generator warm up before turning on the microwave. There are dozens of one-minute intervals during the day where I wait for time to go by. I’ve gotten used to doing some simple stretches, and maybe even a few air-squats, to pass the time.
These are just a couple of ideas and, remember, YMMV (your mileage may vary). The idea here is not for you to necessarily copy any of my methods (and there may be medical reasons why you shouldn’t), but rather to begin to think about your day as an opportunity to exercise your body USEFULLY.
For most people who hate exercise, the worst part of it is the uselessness of all the sweat and toil. By beginning to creatively distribute exercise into and among daily actions, it’s possible to actually look forward to keeping your body in good condition.
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.