Keeping Fit

         Over the years of our work life, we both got into the habit of keeping fit and enjoying the benefits thereof. At the insistence of one of her kids, and with the help Heavy Hands, the Ultimate Workout by Leonard Schwartzof the ITP, Pat took up running at the ripe old age of 60. For her first road race, she entered and finished the Marine Corps Marathon. Over the next couple of years, she ran a few more races (including, memorably, the 100-mile Klondike relay) until moving aboard Callipygia, at which time she quit running. Bill had played racquetball 3-4 times a week for about 15 years, and of course that evaporated when he moved aboard.

         Not surprisingly, once we moved aboard Callipygia we both slowly gained weight. We found that in the cruising life it was very hard to get enough exercise. Bill's blood pressure began to creep up. We didn't like how tired we got on long passages. It was hard to do the exercises and stretches in the ITP Kata, although intermittently we did try. We remembered how much better we felt back in the "old days" when we regularly exercised. Then one day we noticed that among the stuff we had moved onto the boat were some weights and the book Heavy Hands, the Ultimate Workout by Leonard Schwartz. Knowing that we'd only stick with a routine if it was both convenient and enjoyable, we felt we had to find a way where our "workouts" were not work but pleasure. The strength-building routine listed below often worked for us on the boat. We also found we could get some aerobic exercise swinging hand weights while walking. When we stuck to exercising, we were happy with how much better we felt, how much trimmer we looked, and the increased energy levels that we enjoyed.

         Now that we are land cruising, exercising is much easier. It's easy to unroll the yoga mat and do the ITP Kata inside Clemmie. We still try to work with the hand weights, and we've come to truly enjoy walking and biking. On the Katy Trail, ArkansasWe've expanded our range on the bikes first from 10 to 15, and now to 30 miles. We love it when we find ourselves somewhere reasonably flat with either a bike trail, or bike lanes along the road. Especially if there's a destination half way through that we can explore, or find a place to munch. It has become a top priority to fit in an hour or two (or three) each day walking or biking, with the intent of working up a good sweat and accumulating at least 12-15,000 steps on the pedometers we now each wear. The pedometers have turned out to be a handy since, as each day wears on, we are confronted with the need to go for a walk or bike ride if a pedometer isn't registering its step quota.

         For an aerobic workout, we try to make sure the heart rate gets into the "target" range. [Depending on fitness level, target range for an aerobic workout is roughly between 75% and 80% times {220 minus your age}.] For us that's about 115-120. If it's pouring rain or otherwise, a workout can be done indoors by stepping in place and pumping handweights, building up to a rate of about 100/minute. Using a metronome is good. For this in-place workout, raise heels about 6" off the floor, and pump the arm up a foot or more on the same side as the leg that is raised. It's pretty boring but is tolerable for 20-30 minutes, and really feels good when completed.

         We are convinced that keeping the body fit and flexible is as essential for maintaining good health as exercising the brain is. In early October, 2005, we visited with some elderly (even by our standards) friends and noticed how much trouble they had moving around. Pat went to school on that lesson and became bound and determined it ain't going to happen to her. She has now ritualized the Kata to the point where she does it first thing on rising every morning Monday to Friday, no matter what. To date, she's only missed three days. Her flexibility is markedly increased, and her former stiffness much diminished.

         The strength building routine with Heavy Hands is listed below, building to 3 sets of 12 repetitions each, and gradually increasing weight if/when it feels comfortable. Doing this 3 times a week is optimal. One thing we've learned with our aging joints, muscles, and bones however is not to overdo things.

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on June 18, 2008

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