Barbara: Wellness Wednesdays–a dog, a ball, and a lake

My brother had a dog named Loki, a black springer spaniel mutt, who loved the water and loved chasing balls. If you combined the two, say a lake and a 1012181_481787078578553_1501958219_nball, he would chase that baby for hours.  Hours.  Until his legs were shaking. Until the sun was setting. Until my brother had to leash him to make him stop.

That’s what exercise should feel like.  Believe it or not, there is an exercise out there that will feel that good to you. Our bodies were designed to move and every single one of us has something that will feel like that spaniel and the ball in the lake

As I’ve said before, I was the anti-PE girl.  And I’m still so uncoordinated that I wouldn’t dare pick up a tennis racket or try to throw a baseball. But this afternoon, I headed out to the garden.  I kept thinking I should go swimming because I’ve been doing it a lot and my massage therapist said that my back looks great, and many of us are headed out to the national RWA conference next week, so I wanted something to keep looking good. Calves and back, that’s what I’ve got. (And forearms, baby. Let me flex my forearms for you sometime. Please?) Everything else is showing its age.

What I did instead of swim was drift out to the garden.  Shade comes into my backyard in the late afternoon, and I can address certain tasks even if it’s a hot day.  I’ve had some black fabric bags to hang on the fence for weeks, and I found some cheap, half-dead petunias and verbena at Lowe’s the other day.  I told myself I could do a little gardening, then go to the pool.

I changed my shirt and shoes—again the RWA conference is coming and my feet have their usual, embarrassing walking sandals tan—and headed out.  Gloves, a cute flowered bag with pockets that Christopher Robin’s mother sent me (she sends great gardening things from England) and got to it.  Digging a little here, pulling weeds there, tying up some beans.  A wild thing that had been adding a nice bit of architecture had finally grown too tall so I dug it out and put in some squash.  I pulled more weeds.

It was hot.  I sweated a lot.  My face was streaming, and dirt stuck to my chest. I kept thinking I’d stop in a few minutes, but I had an idea to put the leftover petunias in the cinder blocks I use to prop my fig trees up high enough that when my darling dog lifts his leg, he doesn’t pee INTO the pots.  If he pees on the petunias, they’ll cough a little and be fine the next day.  When that was finished, I decided to dig out the dead rose and put some cucumbers there.

By then, I was seriously thirsty so headed in for a drink of water. I glanced at the clock and realized I’d been out there for three hours.  THREE hours!  I drank a big glass of water and headed back out to finish up, dragging my trash inside, making sure the new plants had water.  Of course I was famished.

Because you know how many calories general gardening burns in three hours? 1143.  (According to Net Diary.) You know how many are burned by swimming 35 minutes (laps, moderate)? 339.  I could have gone to swim, but I wouldn’t have stayed in the pool for three hours.

I gave myself the physical activity I adore and in the process, burned as many calories as lifting weights or swimming laps for hours or doing three Zumba classes, back to back.  It’s also great exercise, lifting and moving, bending and squatting (sort of—squatting isn’t that easy these days).  It’s not cardio, but it’s healthy and meditative and powerfully relaxing.  As I sweated putting dirt into containers and screwing hooks into the fence, cortisol was pouring out of my body.  Worry dropped away and I stopped thinking about anything at all, which is always a good thing for the brain and creativity and healing. I only thought of the plant in front of me, the sun on my shoulders, the weird pleasure of sweating so much.

A good lesson.

What kinds of activities make you feel that rush of joy?  Maybe it isn’t a classic form of exercise, but something else.  What is your ball in the lake?

And if you haven’t found one, what is something you have thought you might want to try….but you are nervous/worried/might look stupid?

32 thoughts on “Barbara: Wellness Wednesdays–a dog, a ball, and a lake

  1. The whole idea of the dog and the ball is very inspiring. I’ve seen this in my gkids and my niece and nephew also. I think I may have let myself get so far out of shape that no movement is really pleasant for me. I’m definitely inspired to dig deeper and look for something though.
    I can’t say that I really enjoy riding the recumbent bike under the Stimulights but I like the sweating, though.

  2. Oh!! Love, love, love this.

    It is always so annoying when people say they hate exercise and will never enjoy it and I say, well, look for something you like doing and they insist there is NOTHING that’ll help and I have to give up and go away before I start a beat-down.

    I love dancing. So dance classes at gym are awesome for me. I still remember working hard at learning the tarantella at dance class in high school and feeling the endorphin rush that came from doing the steps correctly twice through.

    I’d love to do a martial art of some sort. Especially something that uses a staff because I love doing forms I made up when I’m walking through our steep garden holding a branch/broomstick.

  3. I love to dance but haven’t done it in ages. I’m back in the air-cast after a PDP treatment yesterday (they spin the plasma out of your blood and inject it back into your body) trying to get these tendons to heal.

    I’m okay with riding the stationary bike, but I’m out of the habit. There doesn’t seem to be the space/time/physical ability to do much these days, but I will heal and I will figure out how to move my body again.

  4. toni says:

    I miss dance, which I did nonstop as a child/teen, but Carl didn’t dance when we married and we’ve never had the time to go take classes together. (His schedule is nuts, though I was thrilled that he offered.)

    I’m going to be able to swim come fall, so I’m looking forward to that (heated pool), and do some real gardening, once we move into the new place. There’s a rooftop terrace that I plan to fill chock full of everything I ever wanted, so I might disappear for days.

    I need to get moving again, and get back in the habit of regular exercise. I keep thinking of “exercise” as “treadmill” which bores me silly, even with a good book (though it’s better than nothing). But this reminds me how much I enjoy other things and need to get back my life. Baby steps.

  5. I’m afraid I’m much more like your brother’s dog than I care to admit. Give me a lake! Oh, I’d even chase a ball in a lake if someone was will to throw it. My exercise of choice is always swimming–whether at the lake (my favorite) or at the gym pool. But I also love to ride my bike, so either one sets me up.

    On Sunday, my friend and I played in the lake, swimming, jumping in, going down the 8-ft slide into the water–all of which required pulling my body up the ladder onto the dock and climbing the ladder on the slide. I’m certain I used a lot of muscles because my arms and shoulders ached on Monday. But it was a good ache! Next week I’m at the lake all week and I intend to spend as much time as I can in or on (paddleboat) the water. If I can find someone to throw a ball for me, won’t that be grand? 😉

  6. I’m not sure what activity I’d enjoy doing. Maybe swimming, because it would be easy on my knees, but I’d get a full body workout. No pool though. Hoping to join the Rec Center this fall, then we’ll see. I don’t anything about gardening, and I hate sweating while I mow my grass so that’s probably not going to be it.

    I need an indoor activity. Not sure if it’s age or what, but I really don’t like the excessive sweating. (Not that I can’t sweat indoors, but that seems different.)

  7. Oh, my beloved Springer Spaniel Leo was just like that! We had to stop for his sake or he’d get so exhausted he’d drown himself.
    As for me, I spent yesterday doing Broadway type dancing. Moi! Who woulda thunk it? With sweat pouring down, and grabbing a seat every time I could.
    When I get new knees I’m gonna dance!

  8. Redwood Kim says:

    Soccer used to be my passion, but I don’t see going back to it any time soon. Maybe the indoor version this winter. And I haven’t quite figured out what’s going to replace it. I want to do more hiking, and get the family out there with me. And surprisingly, running is holding some appeal for me. I like the idea of doing some races.

    Now, mind you, I’ve only done two runs so far, and they’ve really been jogs. My feet don’t really leave the ground and fast is not the way I’d describe it. But here’s the thing – it feels great while I”m doing it. It feels great when I’m finished. And I don’t give a flyng donut how I look while I’m doing it – I’m just doing it.

    Weight lifting is turning out to be fun, too. I want to thank you, Barbara, for turning me on to the Go Kaleo site – she’s great. I cracked myself up trying to do one of her exercises yesterday -so hard!- but I’ll be able to do it someday soon.

  9. I adore being outdoors in any form of exercise, but in recent years a bad right knee limits me in some ways. My gait is often off. Sometimes I’ll have knee pain, or low back pain, othertimes right hip pain. I have restarted the treadmill and concentrate on correct alignment when I walk (and sweat)and that does seem to be helping a bit. Love the sweating.
    Swimming is great but with temps of 120 degrees you have to get up early or stay up late just to tolerate the heat, and the water feels like a warm bath. ; )
    My ex-neighbor had an English sheepdog who loved to swim and play. He’d drop a ball into the pool, dive in, retrieve it, climb out, do it all over again. He’d go for hours on end. Crazy dog.

  10. Chris S. says:

    I’m like Nan: the water is the thing. My friends and I would swim and cavort around until we had to stop for fear of drowning of exhaustion. These days I swim after work when I can, until hunger/the dark/family obligation force me out.

    I also like a lot of team sports (I was that kid on 3 different sports teams all through high school)but I really dislike the win/lose aspect of sports. I just like to play. A midnight game of footie with a giant shifting mass of players and no one keeping score? That’s some good fun right there.

  11. Dancing! I could dance until I dropped.

    P.S. I was the anti-PE girl too. I even got sent to the principal’s office in the 4th grade because I couldn’t (they thought wouldn’t) touch my toes. That experience only made PE worse for me.

  12. Cindy says:

    I really enjoy dancing. I started doing barre exercise recently, and I enjoyed it a lot. And then I tried Pilates. That was like an epiphany. I love Pilates. It really is like the dog with the ball. I look forward to it. I don’t dread it. I almost get a buzz from doing it.

  13. Thea says:

    Jazzercise is my fun, and yoga. Love how my body feels after both activities. And, thank you, Barbara, you have set me up for this afternoon’s herb planting amidst the roses. Gotta get those beauties into the ground!

  14. Justine Hutchinson says:

    Growing up, it was always cross-country skiing for me. Then I started competing, and it got stressful, and I quit. And then I moved to California, and it wasn’t even an option. After that, I would say that hiking in the mountains was the only thing that ever came close to motivating me to push myself. It was easier just to walk city streets with my dog than to find a mountain to climb, so I didn’t do it very often.

    Last year I moved back to Canada, and some of my parents’ friends invited me to their chalet for a cross-country ski weekend. So, strapped into ill-fitting gear and knowing I was dismally out of shape, I stepped onto a ski trail for the first time in almost 20 years. Guess what? It was still every bit as wonderful as it used to be. I mean, I worked up some horrifying blisters and I couldn’t go very fast, but I felt marvelous and went until my limbs turned to jelly.

  15. I used to like bike riding, but about 20 years ago it became scary for me, riding along Seattle streets, so I haven’t done it since. I loved swimming, when we had our own pool and it wasn’t over-chlorinated and crowded.

    I like to dance, but now I live with others and it’s hard to find the privacy. So I really need to get back to walking and easy hikes. Easy ones — none of this hundreds of feet of elevation gain and loss and tons of switchbacks stuff. I didn’t like that even when I was much younger.

    And gardening. Except that I don’t have my own garden anymore and won’t likely for a while, unless I win the lottery. So walking it must be for now.

  16. I love dancing, and swimming, and mixing the two as in water aerobics. I love riding my bike and cannot wait to figure out the bike thing for the car.

    However, I some what disagree about the “find what you love” theory of exercise. I had a doctor tell me that it doesn’t matter if I love to exercise, I just need to do it. Sure, it’s better if it’s something you enjoy, but if you can’t find anything you enjoy, you still need to do something. Clean your house, walk around the block, ride a bike, scrub your floors on your hands and knees (use a gardening pad for your knees).

    Moving is like brushing your teeth. You just need to do it. Once you start moving again then you are more likely to find something you love.

    Horseback riding and yoga. I love those two activities too.

  17. No pool? you don’t like the chlorine?

    Swimming probably would be great for you if your knees hurt. I keep planning to blog about swimming and still haven’t done it!

  18. A lot of us have knee issues here. My right knee is the worst, but the left can join in the howling, too. And of course, if you limp on one or the other, the hips start to get cranky, and the low back and….

    All the more reason to keep moving and keep all the supporting muscles strong.

    120 degrees!!!!

  19. Couple of thoughts, Skye: what if you look around for a community garden next year and see if you can get a plot? A lot of places have them now.

    As for dancing–there are Zumba, Nia, Jazzercise, and ballet classes all over now. You might look around and see if there are any in your neighborhood.

    Walking is great, too. I love it a lot.

  20. Good point, Maria. We need to move.

    I’ve ridden horses a few times and really loved it, but never had the luxury of being able to ride often.

    Cleaning is great exercise, actually. I’m sort of surprised when I put the hours into Net Diary and see the reward.

  21. I love all forms of movement, for the most part. I really love gardening, sparring, running, hiking, bike riding, swimming… all stuff that I have a hard time doing now thanks to my cranky neck. But my physical therapist did suggest I try swimming with a snorkel so I can freestyle without worrying about breathing. Brilliant, she is! Being in the water is the absolute best at this point, as gravity goes away and I can play. Now I just have to learn how to use a snorkel LOL.

  22. Eileen A-W says:

    I love gardening and now that the humidity has gone down, for a day or two, I can get back to tackling those weeds. It gives me some quiet time, although I have been known to put my ipod nano to good use. I swapped bikes with older son because his was from when he was 12 & much smaller. That was 15 years ago & probably 9-10 inches shorter, ago. However, every time he blew out a tire he would ride his old, my, bike. Hubby took it in for a major tune up. Just got it back, so I can’t wait to get on and ride. I do try to walk – but with the humidity it is not good on my heart. I really think I need to get out of my funk & recharge my energy.

  23. Cath G says:

    Love to swim – it has always been my exercise of choice. I swam my way through most of high school PE, the instructors were glad to let me swim since I can’t hit or catch a ball, my first reaction is always to duck. We have a local rec center with a 40 lane pool and the yearly fee is $25 for anyone over 60. It is almost new and very clean. With one wall of glass it is the perfect spot to swim!

    Gardening is a close second. I always want to do more than I have the energy to do and since I am moving to upstate New York as soon as my co-op sells I am trying not to spend money on it. But weeding is forever!

  24. Redwood Kim says:

    The competition thing is a big part of why I don’t want to play soccer anymore. There’s no master;s league around here, and there’s no way I want to play against 20something ex-college players. They have way too much to prove, and I just don’t.

  25. I ride my bike to work – 7 km each way, along a river pathway. It doesn’t seem onerous because I have to go to work anyway and cycling is so much more pleasant than taking the bus. Since I have a dog, I walk regularly – sometimes tough to get out the door, but once I’m walking, it’s usually just fun to meander around the neighbourhood.

  26. Redwood Kim says:

    Double commenting because I had an epiphany during my run tonight. Halfway through, I realized the voice I was using to motivate myself was in second person: Keep going, you’re doing great…you can do it…you did it! Well, screw that. I ran. I kept going. I did it.

    I am not my coach. I am a runner/mover/weight lifter, and I am awesome.

  27. Kelly S. says:

    I used to play tennis but ruined my knees doing so. I miss it some.

    I took swing dancing classes and really love doing that but have challenges getting the hubby out to do it.

    I have really enjoyed the wii. The EA Active series is really good. I like the variety and the game aspect.

    I bought a Groupon for Krav Maga classes. I’ve been to one and really liked it but felt awkward. I also don’t want to add another commitment to my schedule so I’ve been reluctant to go back.

  28. Justine Hutchinson says:

    I googled the plasma/platelet tendon treatment – it’s like something straight out of scifi! I wish your tendons a speedy recovery.

  29. Micki says:

    Oh, I dreaded P.E. We had to touch our toes maybe two days out of the entire year, which is completely ridiculous. Every P.E. class should start with a good stretch — maybe you can’t touch your toes in the beginning, but I bet most people would be able to touch their toes by Christmas if the teachers would just do it regularly.

    My big bugaboo was pull-ups. Just couldn’t do it. But, man, I rocked at sit-ups. (-: My P.E. teacher thought I was lying when I reported my count, which was in the normal range. But my parents were very insistent that we keep our tummies pulled in, so I think that helped.

    I’m much better with moving these days, mostly because I think of it as moving with a purpose, rather than exercise.

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