December 5, 2021
My exercise routine can be described in one word: erratic. Over the years my body swayed while belly dancing, bounded with zumba, danced with jazzercise, stretched with yoga, cruised on my bicycle, huffed and puffed lifting weights, and sampled a few other exercise programs. Some programs kept me moving for years; others were brief encounters. I reluctantly gave up group classes with the onset of the pandemic.
But exercise is important. If I do not move my body it begins to deteriorate, and at an astonishing, fast rate. So I am always on the lookout for senior-friendly exercise routines.
Recently I launched an endeavor I hope will become a long-term practice – walking with poles. Walking has not been easy for me recently. I have back and leg issues. My walking has been restricted to a few blocks at a time, me often hunched over to compensate for backaches. But walking is a highly recommended form of low-impact exercise for seniors. And I am a card-carrying member of that group.
I spent time strolling through a Bass Pro Shop a few weeks ago, the goal a new pair of hiking/walking boots. Hub and I planned a few days in the woods of Vermont on a Road Scholar program. I needed a sturdy pair of footwear offering support and comfort. I don’t remember exactly when I purchased my old pair, but definitely some time in the last century. It was time for an upgrade.
The Road Scholar program recommended walking poles. The hikes would be short but on uneven terrain.
Hub and I eventually located walking/hiking poles after a lengthy trek around the store, a huge warehouse-type structure. We discovered a wall of poles, a dizzying assortment at various price points, designs, and materials. A sales clerk (couldn’t believe we found one, and the man was actually knowledgeable!) helped us choose ‘beginner’ poles.
We purchased poles, also called walking sticks, but the term poles appeals more than sticks. Poles sounds athletic, sporty, energetic. Sticks conjure pictures of…canes, used by old people.
Now I venture out with my new poles on sunny, warmish days. It is December, but the sun shines for a few precious hours most days.
I immediately noticed that the poles help my posture. I stand straight while moving forward. My back does not ache. Eventually my leg cries out for attention – Enough! – but I can walk for a longer period of time and at a faster pace than I have for a long time.
Hub and I never made it to the Vermont program. But we can reschedule next year when I will be in better shape (hopefully) to endure the hikes and enjoy the great outdoors. And maybe sign up for a program offering longer walks. But no mountain climbing!
FYI – There is another reason not to use the term walking sticks to describe my new appendages. Walking sticks is the name of an insect. They look like sticks, and often shift back and forth like a branch moving in the wind.