Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – regular LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Laura McLeod.
I’m not one of those who hates to exercise. I even do the ‘formal’ type (running, gym workouts, etc.) when I can, but because I have very little time, it can be difficult to stay fit. So I aim for fitness any way I can find it, and often, I find it in the most routine of activities or even what I consider to be ‘play’ – for example, gardening, sailing, and playing with my cat.
I can hear you now. “Play with your cat?” Yes, my cat loves to chase things and play hide and seek. So while it may not sound like exercise, chasing an energetic cat around my living room or backyard for a half hour does count for something!
Gardening isn’t often thought of as exercise. But when you spend an afternoon pulling weeds, turning soil and deadheading plants, you’re going to feel it the next day. I have a big yard that I share with others who plant gardens of their own, and there is never a shortage of work to be done. We have every invasive plant imaginable, and despite how often I pull them, there always seems to be more. I have used muscles that I’m certain were dormant for years – in my hands, arms, back, glutes and legs. If I did this enough, not only would I stay fit, I’d never have to lift another weight!
Those muscles certainly come in handy when I’m out sailing. When you think of sailing, you might think of sleek boats and full sails, gliding along in picturesque settings. This is rare here in the Northwest! It’s not often that the wind and sun will come together for that picture-perfect day. Chances are that the wind will be out of the north and blowing incessantly, requiring the boat to zigzag into the wind. Sailing a boat upwind takes a fair amount of strength and balance – which, thanks to a few years of “practice” climbing at Ballard’s Stone Gardens, I now have.
It can be challenging to stay fit with a busy schedule. I sit all day at work, and sitting down is the last thing I want to do when I’m at home. Once I leave the office, I look for any opportunity to move. I value cleanliness and I don’t love clutter, but I’d rather turn on some favorite high-energy music and do some aerobic-style “dancing” than do much housework (though vacuuming can also be good exercise!). And when I’m at work, I often go for a walk – usually spurred by the need to solve a problem. It’s a great way to stay fit with very little effort. Plus, the combination of letting something go and getting fresh air and exercise usually gets me unstuck.
In my life, any movement is good movement. And my goal this year is to move as much as possible. What’s yours?
Laura McLeod is an internal communications manager at LifeWise, and is convinced that lifestyle trumps genetics. Because her genetics include many lifestyle-based illnesses, she strives to eat well, exercise and get regular check-ups. While she’s officially reached ‘mid-life,’ she believes you’re only as old as you feel or, hopefully, your “real age” as calculated by your biometrics. Laura lives in Ballard with her long-time partner and her energetic, playful cat.