Thursday, February 25, 2010

pre-season exercise

Normally, I use the good and usually snowy winter to both maintain physical fitness and to prepare for the triking season. We're blessed here in Canada's capital with four distinct seasons even if the past two years didn't seem like it. So, what I typically do is use the snowy winters to go cross country skiing. It's a great way to stay in shape, practice balance and, best of all, prepare my body for the remaining three seasons.
While this winter (2009-2010) hasn't been as good for skiing as previously, I still manage to get some exercise. Other than a really nasty cold snap we had about a month ago, it's been pretty much a non-winter so getting outdoors isn't too difficult a task - so far.
So, what exercises can be done during the non-catriking season?

You can't go wrong with walking and so we endeavour to get out for a good 4 or 5 kilometre walk as often as possible - ideally daily but that can't always work out. Where we live in Ottawa, we are close to a lot of amenities, including bus stops so if our walking adventures become too tiring for me, a bus stop is almost always close by. That extra level of help makes a huge difference to someone like me.
Occasionally, and when we're both well nourished and have the time, we will walk from our house to the downtown core. We did that last weekend to see the ice sculptures at city hall before they softened into some watery shadow of their former selves. Ottawa has Winterlude for the first three weeks of February each year and so we like to take in the marvellous ice sculptures. If the weather is nice enough, we will walk into town and reward our efforts with a bus ride back home. I know, how dull is that? Actually, it isn't dull - at least not for us. Walking is great all around exercise and a pretty good alternative to x-c skiing when the conditions just don't allow for hitting the trails. We all know it's a good cardiovascular workout, especially if you get a good steady pace going, and it will help to trim up the very legs you'll need to pedal a trike (or any other human powered wheeled device for that matter).

I am fortunate in that I have both free weights and a (very) simple weight machine that Adam and I use 4 or 5 mornings per week. While neither of us is attempting to out-do Madonna or look like some bulked up body builder, we both realize that having well toned muscles is important for endurance and for maintaining a half-way decent metabolism. At our age (mid forties to early fifties), there is this unfortunate tendency to put on weight, lose muscle tone and otherwise allow our bodies to go to pot. There is this tendency, as well, to view this as inevitable or even something we deserve "after all those years working hard...". However, none of that is true. As we age, we owe it to ourselves to stay in as good a shape as possible. That doesn't mean we try to stay as trim and fit as we may have been when we were much younger but that doesn't mean we have to endanger our lives by becoming sedentary either.

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