“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”-Robert Lewis Stevenson
Life is a love affair with moving, not only moving in the traveling sense, but moving our aging bodies daily. I like to think that combining travel for travel’s sake with daily physical exercise keeps us young and slows the aging process. But what have we found to be the best motivator to keep us moving?
Recently, I chatted with a nurse who works with patients who have COVID. She told me that the biggest factor in her patients getting better is the ability to keep moving because without movement the chances of pneumonia are much greater, leading to respiratory failure and death.
Most people understand the importance of exercise, but as the population of baby boomers over the age of 65 continues to increase, the percentage of people exercising in that age group continues to decrease. According to experts in aging, Estimates show that only 39% of individuals over the age of 65 meet the recommended amount of activity each week (30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week).
The effects on our bodies after living more than a half century on this planet, have begun to take their toll. Arthritis has invaded our joints…I believe it is one of the long lasting effects of Chikungunya, the mosquito borne virus that infected us both while living in Nicaragua. Annoying aches and pains pop up from doing everyday activities. It is more difficult to open jars, climb ladders, and maintain an active metabolism.
I just got used to the idea that wrinkles, age spots, and reading glasses are here to stay! So, what can we do to motivate us and promote a healthy attitude about our changing bodies?
I admit, I am not one to love exercising. I worked out in the university gym in my 40s and early 50s because it was free to university employees. I was motivated by all the young, hard bodies I saw everyday and the cost was free. For my 50th birthday, I planned a trip with six of my girlfriends to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. That was motivation in itself to get in shape. We kicked Dead Women’s Pass on the second day of the hike at an elevation of 13,828 ft.
But, how lucky am I to have a coach for a husband and partner in exercise? Ron motivates me to take hikes and explore the paths less traveled. It is like having a personal trainer at my side 24/7.
With Ron by my side, or generally leading the way up and down the trails, through the woods, and across the lakes and rivers, I am loving our travel/exercise routines. He leads me through the forgotten and overgrown paths and I lead him through the alleys and local neighborhoods in the towns and cities we visit.
We bought an inflatable tandem kayak, which is easy to deflate and haul in our roof top cargo box. We paddle through swamps, lakes, small tributaries, and smooth rivers. Paddling seems effortless and we can get a strong unbeatable rhythm going to keep us moving.
We are fortunate to live in an area where there are many hiking trails and the Appalachian Trail is close. In the spring, we hike searching for morel mushrooms and spring flowers. In the summer, we hike searching for berries and secret swimming spots. In the fall, we enjoy the glorious beauty of the changing leaves and in the winter, the crunch of snow and the tracks of deer and raccoons. Every season the trails change and dress in their finest attire. We can easily get lost in our thoughts and it makes exercise effortless.
When we spent the fall of 2020 housesitting for our son and his fiancé in Yosemite National Park, we took advantage of the trails Yosemite had to offer. Everyday, we would eat a light breakfast, pack a lunch, and head out to explore a new trail in Yosemite.
We averaged 4-6 miles daily on the trails. In two months, we were able to hike at least a mile or two on most of the trails in Yosemite. The trails we missed were the ones closed to fires or maintenance. Hiking in Yosemite when the park was closed due to the fires and Covid, was surreal. We were alone at Tunnel View, and rarely met people on the trails. Yosemite was large enough that we could avoid the smoke depending on the elevation and location of the fires. We checked the air quality daily.
On Halloween night, we hiked the trails at Glacier Point…me in my son’s dinosaur costume. Not only was it a great costume, but it kept me toasty warm at Glacier Point.
We’ve found the right motivation to get our move on! Combining walking, hiking, and travel will keep us motivated and young for (hopefully) many years to come. Realistically, we know that in our Third Age (60-90), it will be harder to stay motivated, but the benefits of moving entertain and excite us in countless ways both physically and mentally.
How do you get your move on? What is your motivation?