As I continue to write my book No Excuses Fitness, I have included my experience with exercise and recovery from injury and surgery in this post.
Two years ago, while out walking my dogs, I fell and fractured my right hand. I was lucky only to have to wear a wrist brace so I could still use my fingers, but the pain and awkwardness of the brace hindered most of my activities and personal care.
Consistently engaging in leisure-time physical activity makes up part of my identity. The idea of not being able to walk, swim, go to the gym or ride my bike sets up high levels of anxiety within me. Not only do I want to maintain my fitness level, but I also want to keep weight off.
I admit I am a little addicted to exercise and its effects on weight loss, among other benefits. So of course, I went to the gym three days after I broke my hand. I figured I could still walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical since my legs were fine. I did not want to lose the progress I had made in my fitness journey.
After only 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not engaging my right hand, I was pouring sweat and feeling strange. I later shared this news with my daughter, an avid, 30-something Cross-Fitter, who admonished me for not resting. Our bodies use a LOT of energy to heal even a minor fracture. Feeling much better after a week, I went back to the gym and engaged in my usual workouts but in shorter durations. I was also able to carefully walk the dogs again, using my left hand to hold the leashes.
Two years later, my mindset toward physical activity hasn’t changed much. When I elected to have bunion surgery on my left foot in early June, I thought I went in with my eyes wide open. Having never experienced firsthand the mobility issues of using crutches or a knee scooter, I assumed I could gracefully and patiently handle the whole process of recovering from surgery.
It has been quite a journey. “Gracefully and patiently” are distant ideals.
As each day went by, I gradually got more energy. Most physical activities had to be done in the morning, as my foot would typically swell in mid-afternoon. This is the time when I would elevate my feet on my La-Z-Boy!
Here is a look at a week in my life post-surgery. Please note that light activity was approved by my doctor during my third week when the real cast was placed.
Walking the Dogs
With assistance, I found I could get my knee scooter outside, while someone wrangled the dogs. My small dog, Aero, walks well and I could attach his leash to the scooter handlebars, while someone walked alongside with Brodie. I went from walking 15 minutes to over 45 minutes, 2-3 days a week!
I keep my phone with me in case of photo ops!
I bought a used stationary bike I keep on the backyard deck, and 2-3 times a week I cycle for 15-20 minutes. The casted foot occasionally slips a little while pedaling, but most of the work is done with my right foot.
Calisthenics, Strength Training, and Stretching
I keep a resistance band in my scooter basket. When the mood strikes, I do some simple resistance exercises for about 10 minutes. I also lie on the floor and gently work my abs and legs. Due to the cast and inactivity, my left thigh is now an inch smaller around than my right thigh! With my ankle immobilized within the cast, I know I have some work to do once it’s off.
Short Errands to the Store
Once the fourth week arrived, I was able to drive to nearby stores to run errands. Hubby showed me how to place the scooter in the back of my SUV, which takes some maneuvering. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to lift in and out of the car. Just doing this much and rolling around the grocery store takes energy and time. I discovered last week I can pull a cart with one hand while riding the scooter, but I save the big trips for hubby.
To get into my backyard, I need to use the crutches. Our deck has three steps into the backyard, so the scooter does not work. My plumerias and sunflowers need water daily while the rest of the plants and flowers need water every other day in our Northern California 90+ degree heat. Some gardening projects will have to wait until I am back on both feet.
My two proudest achievements this summer! My first pink plumeria bloomed yesterday, a huge surprise since it can take up to three years for cuttings to bloom.
Last year I planted sunflowers to photograph and enjoy. Once I saw this type, a Tall Sungold, aka Teddy Bear, I just had to have one. A blogger friend sent me some of his seeds from his harvest!
I take photos of the sunflowers and plumeria almost every day. Have you ever tried to hold a cell phone with two fingers while using crutches? I knew I should have bought one of those Velcro pouches made for crutches while I was at the medical supply store in San Diego!
Getting Back to Normal
Looking forward to when the cast comes off in a few days, I may end up wearing a walking boot for a while longer, which is OK since I can remove it. From this point, I plan to swim and do some aqua aerobics and water walking at the gym swimming pool, along with using the elliptical again. I’m also looking forward to my Friday or Saturday morning yoga classes too!
The key is to resume physical activity gradually. Complete recovery from bunion surgery can take up to one year, due to mild residual pain and swelling!
I’m excited about getting back to the delta for our summer weekends where I can kayak and ease into stand-up paddling’ but I think I will put off windsurfing until next season!
I know that my recovery will be slow, but I have an entire month before I’m back in the classroom.
Was it worth it? I’ll let you know in a few weeks! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the scooter ride with me today.
There is no excuse more prevalent than dealing with extreme weather conditions to thwart your plans for physical activity.
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
Henry David Thoreau
“But it’s too HOT to exercise!”
In the northern hemisphere, today marks the summer solstice, the first day of summer. Here in Northern California, the heat was a predictable 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).
For my southern hemisphere friends who are enjoying enduring COLD temps now, the same principles of using temperature as an excuse not to exercise still apply. See links near the end of this post.
Today I am sharing excerpts from my upcoming work-in-progress book No Excuses Fitness as they relate to exercising in hot or cold weather, from my chapter on external barriers.
How often do we make the time to get some well-needed exercise or physical activity only to be thwarted by some external barrier?
External obstacles or barriers generally include geographical, environmental and structural. Those geographical barriers include weather and climate, changing seasons and outdoor temperatures.
For example, how can weather impact your exercise plans? Perhaps you plan to go for a jog on your lunch break and find the temperature is simply going to be too hot. For some this is a barrier that stands in the way. Is there an indoor place in which you can work out? How about a swimming pool where you can join a water exercise class or engage in lap swimming?
Do you live in a part of the country where the possibility of extreme weather conditions prevents you from simply walking outdoors?
According to Fitbit, taking 10,000 steps “adds up to about five miles each day for most people, which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise—satisfying the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.”
Working your exercise regimen around seasonal weather and extreme temperatures is do-able with some pre-planning.
Local Recreation and Park Facilities and Programs
Knowing what your local parks and community recreation center or local swimming pool offers can potentially provide you with plenty of ideas for exercising in warm temperatures.
If your summer evenings are free and it is cooler to exercise, consider these options:
Many recreation and exercise programs are offered after work hours during the week and on weekends.
Consider trying a short-duration exercise program with a beginning and end date.
Some communities have private swim or racquet clubs with a variety of fitness amenities that you can join for a limited time if you don’t want to commit to a year-long membership.
On warm summer nights, trade your walking or jogging clothes for your bathing suit and join your local swimming pool’s water aerobics class.
For more cardio, lap swimming is also a great workout. If you don’t want to get your hair or face wet, use a kickboard and work out your legs, or perform the breaststroke or sidestroke.
(Image by Unsplash)
Even if your swimming skills are underdeveloped, don a pair of water shoes and walk back and forth in the shallow end. These are surprisingly effective alternatives to lap swimming and will keep you cool.
Friends and Family
Longer summer evenings mean more time for evening fitness activities with your family. After dinner, get everyone moving during a brisk evening walk. If you have dogs, they will appreciate walking in the cooler evening temps, too.
I walk with one of my friends from the gym one day a week for an hour. We meet at her workplace and walk in the neighborhood, as she graciously walks one of my dogs.
For Morning People
If evenings don’t work, try waking up earlier in the morning with the earlier sunrise. An early morning walk, run, or another type of exercise can really kick-start your day.
For myself, I prefer physical activity in the mornings. In Sacramento, we usually have cooler mornings than evenings. If the temperature will be above 95 degrees on a given day, I’ll take the dogs for a 20-minute walk, come back home, eat breakfast then head to the gym.
If I am home on a weekend, I will get up early, grab my inflatable SUP and take the short 15-minute drive to the lake and get a stand-up paddle session in before the heat intensifies and the crowds arrive.
When I worked full time the last 5 years before I retired, I adjusted my work schedule to arrive at 9am and did my gym workout at 6:15am, giving me enough time to shower, eat breakfast and get to my workplace.
Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine. You may decide that you really like it and be motivated to continue.
What is Stopping You?
Don’t let hot weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines, but don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with extreme weather and temperature.
And of course, be safe! If the weather conditions are dangerous or if the air quality is poor, stay indoors.
It is important to remember that you only need 30 minutes of physical activity a day to reap countless health benefits. Three 10-minute sessions briskly walking outdoors on a hot day still works.
For alternatives to your favorite exercise, taking a walk is always better than not going at all, whether you are wearing your shorts to stay cool or your scarf or hat to stay warm.
As I continue writing my No Excuses Fitness book, my goal on this blog is to post an article about fitness at least once a month.
Over 4 years ago I wrote an article about how much time we all need to dedicate to being physically active. This is an update to that post.
Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? Go ahead, count them. Seems like a lot.
To briefly summarize, within this 168 hours, 40 hours are used for work, school or your vocation. This is for an average person. Sleeping uses up 56 hours in a week, which equals 8 hours per night, if we are lucky. What is left over is 72 hours a week for personal care which includes leisure time.
Your challenge is to find three hours a week for physical activity. Out of 168 hours in a week, three hours should be do-able. I created this info-graphic to show how the hours are broken down.
Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Let’s tackle this step-by-step.
Step 1: Assess your health. Are you overweight? Are you unable to exercise due to a medical condition or disability? Do you simply need more motivation to be physically active?
Step 2: Identify barriers preventing you from exercising. Some of these barriers include geographical, environmental and structural.
Geographical barriers can be where you work in relation to where you live. Do you have a long commute to and from work? This can eat into your personal care time. Do you live in a part of the country with extreme weather conditions that may prevent you from simply walking outdoors? If your workplace does not have amenities like a gym or area for exercise, this can be a big deterrent to finding time for physical activity.
Environmental barriers include poor access to parks or other leisure spaces in your community. Perhaps there are very few places to safely ride a bicycle near where you live. If you live in an urban environment, walking may be a great exercise option, but that can be hampered by weather, crowds, events, and other deterrents.
Structural barriers to physical activity can be money, transportation, clothing and equipment, or even the skills to participate in an activity.
Lack of time is the ultimate structural barrier.
Step 3: Assess your interests. Simply put, what do you like to do? What were some fun activities you enjoyed as a young person? Are you interested in trying these activities again as an adult? Once you identify your interest, are there barriers getting in your way? This is where many folks talk themselves out of trying something new.
Step 4: Take action. Now that you have chosen your ideal fitness activity, let’s say “walking”, how will you do this? What time of day works best for you? Can you walk on your lunch break at work? Can you devote 30 minutes, 6 days a week (equals three hours) to walking? If not, how about one hour per day, three days per week? Thirty minutes per day is the minimum time for optimum cardiovascular fitness.
And yes, you can break up the 30 minutes into smaller increments during the day. Other action steps include taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. While at work, walk the long way around to the break room or to a meeting. Even adding a few extra steps can add up to small time increments getting added in to your fitness time.
I work on my university campus two days a week. For my night class, I purposely park close to where the classroom is, so when I finish, I can walk safely to my car. But this means I have to walk at least 10 minutes to get to the building where my office is located. From the parking lot to the office and back to the classroom is at least 20 minutes broken up into 10. And I take the 4 flights up the stairs on days I’m not lugging my rolling cart.
Step 5: Mix up your routine once you take action. Add a few more minutes to your current workout. Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or boot camp. Adding a completely new and different type of workout exercises new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine. If gyms are not your thing, check into your local recreation center for exercise or active leisure classes.
Now that I am staring 60 in the face, I also recognize the value of strength training. Even just 20-30 minutes, two days a week of light weights can help strengthen your bones and muscles.
Step 6: Sustainability. Now that you have created an exercise routine, is it sustainable? If you get bored easily, examine why you are bored. For example, if you walk your dog through the same neighborhood day after day, it can get dull. Perhaps you can walk with a friend.
I started walking weekly with a friend from the gym who is also my hair stylist. We walk for no less than one hour exploring nearby neighborhoods and she graciously walks with one of my two dogs.
Joining structured fitness classes with regular attendees and instructors can also be an incentive.
If the weather is uncooperative, take a walk in the nearest shopping mall (leave your $ and credit cards at home). Perhaps your community has a walking club associated with the neighborhood recreation center. Exercising with others is a good way to stay accountable and not give up. Plus, it’s FUN!
And finally, take a good look at your time. How valuable is your health compared to the time you have left in the day? We easily get caught up in the hectic pace of life and allow our three hours of physical activity to be used up in other ways. Work and family obligations are tough to overcome.
Creating a simple daily schedule for your fitness time should be as high a priority as work and family. If you are unwell, you will not be able to work, or take care of your family.
See more of what other folks are doing for their fitness and health!
Most of you know I am a champion of leisure and fitness! As I strive toward my goals of becoming and staying more physically active, I am publicly announcing my 2019 goal of continuing to write my book-in-progress No Excuses Fitness.
I am starting this journey by making a commitment to writing at least three days a week beginning with Mondays.
My goal is to also post monthly about fitness, exercise and physical activity (aren’t they the same?) for Fitness Fridays.
January is the time of year when folks think and do something about their fitness and exercise regimens.
It is very easy to give up on attempts at exercise when the weather is freezing cold or you and everyone around you are dealing with illnesses and colds. Even I have to force myself to get that gym workout in every other day, and yes, my dogs always need walking.
I am thankful I have my Fitbit to gently nag me to get my 10,000 steps in every day. Do I get them all in? Not every day, but that external motivation does push me a little but further.
With my school schedule set up differently this semester, I can take my favorite Friday morning yoga class again. Boy do I need it!
I end up parking far away on campus from my office so that I have to walk a ways. Every little bit of activity that you can sneak in every day counts for more benefits than you think.
I am sharing some older posts that may help and motivate you toward your fitness goals.
Please check out this previous post. Comments are closed here.