Of all the things that will keep us from feeling or thinking our age exercise is the most recognized as true. Because of my Parkinson’s I have done a ton of reading and research on the benefits of exercise and it is clear that those who exercise will feel better, have more energy, think clearer and have much fewer health issues. It takes a lot of self-control to exercise as much as is needed so very few do. The health benefits are so obvious to me that I have had no problem staying faithful to my routines. I have discovered some key principles over the last 8 years to exercising diligently.
1. The best exercise for me is riding a stationary bike with enough speed and resistance to get my heart rate to 120 beats per minute and to keep it there for one hour. Anything helps, but I don’t notice much difference in how I feel until I hit the one hour mark consistently. An hour is magic, the difference between 45 minutes and 60 minutes is huge. The cool thing about a recumbent stationary bike is that I can read while I ride, or listen to sermons or watch a basketball game on my IPad, and the time goes by very fast. You can buy a stationary recumbent bike on line for under $200 if you get one without all the bells and whistles. My bike also has elliptical arms on it so I work on my arms for 15 minutes as well in preparation for rowing my rubber raft down the Colorado River this summer. I have zero joint issues with riding my bike, my knees, hips, or feet never bother me from riding.
2. Only one rest day a week works best for me. As long as I ride at least an hour 6 days a week I never get sore muscles, but if I miss more than one day I get sore the first day after missing the second day, and sore muscles is an added discouragement from faithful exercising. Also if I ride 6 days a week I develop the habit of riding and once a habit is formed it is so much easier to be faithful to this difficult discipline.
3. Very few people have developed a routine of exercising that truly is strenuous enough that it will do a lot of good physically and mentally. It takes a great deal of self-control to keep this working in our life and most start losing self-control as they get older. The key to overcoming our loss in this area is to recruit people who will hold us accountable ruthlessly. It usually takes a number of people to help get us into an established routine. It is great if those who are nagging us are dedicated exercisers themselves.
4. I go on a long bicycle trip each summer to keep my motivation up for the long winter months of riding indoors. The trips are usually at least 30 days in length and several thousand miles long. There isn’t anything that I do that comes close to making me feel as young and energetic as this annual event does. Riding outside, seeing the scenery, carrying everything on the bike, camping each night, planning the trip is all so much fun and invigorates me in amazing ways. I usually lose 3 or 4 pounds of weight each week while on the trip even though I eat a lot. Also my blood pressure drops significantly, my pulse goes down, and a number of other health issues improve noticeably. You are welcome to go with me this summer if you want. We are going down the coast just north of San Francisco, then we are heading north east to Idaho and then back to Jefferson. We are leaving May 27th and will be back on July 7th, and will travel about 2000 miles.