What is your idea of exercise — I tell you mine

Family and friends often ask if I engage in regular exercise. My impulse is to answer no. As you can expect, I get chastised, though kindly, that sometimes I’m inclined to crack an ambiguous yes just to soothe their concern (and nosy curiosity, kind though). Yes, if I consider walking in the office several times a day, from my desk to the cafeteria, the comfort room, the laboratories where researchers continually and devotedly pore over their experiments. Yes, if I include my boarding the elevator and sauntering to the purchasing department on the second floor each day of the three days that I work. Yes, if I include my trekking up and down the stairs at my home and the concrete steps outside to where my car is parked. Yes, if I add walking back and forth many times to the refrigerator and the kitchen when I’m home. So you see, without batting an eyelash, I can vouch to family and friends that I do my daily exercise.

Of course, they frown at me, kindly that is. What they mean is an established regiment at the gym or the health center, or regular thirty minutes to an hour of brisk walk outdoors every day. If regular regime is what they desire for me, I do spend 10 minutes of stretching and bending, hours after dinner almost daily. I admit, that makes me feel good, especially after indulging in heavy lunch or dinner that day. Ah yes, I stand up to stretch and bend as I watch on TV Jeopardy, or The Big Bang, or Little Big Shots, or the Voice, or PBS concerts, or musical excerpts on the Arts channel. I confess, I sit down for the news. So you see, I manage to execute some physical movements that I call exercise, as I enjoy watching programs that interest me.

I almost joined Zumba classes at the Y blocks away from home. I didn’t. Why? Because whenever I hear danceable music at home, I instinctively absorb the rhythm in my body and get footloose. I shift for the shimmy, the sway and the swing. My almost nine-year-old grandson would be proud of me. He does the same when he hears music that triggers the moves: so wonderful, so extraordinary, so delightful to watch. He has the natural, innate rhythm in him. He’s got the beat, and it’s awesome. I can be awesome, too, when I perform dance steps without being stared at. That means, I’m an awesome dancer when I’m alone. That’s exercise!

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in the worth and gain of workouts. But I don’t whip nor starve myself when circumstances and momentary lethargy limp my intent to exercise. I just find ways to move my limbs, bones and muscles to get that necessary activity to keep them in healthy shape (may not be tip-top, but good enough). And my ways can be fun and, importantly, simple and doable. So, family and friends – thanks for asking if I exercise. This baby boomer Lola’s comeback … a sassy yes!

Linda P. Jacob