Column: Braving the chilly outdoors for a bit of exercise

Great Outdoors by James Murray

As the snow piles up outside and temperatures drop to freezing lows, I am more inclined to stay inside where it is nice and warm, read and watch the television.

Every now and then, I am even inspired to try out one or two of the recipes I see on some of those cooking shows.

A fellow has to eat.

I guess there is always the snow shovelling, but that can wait until it warms up a bit. I am not what you would call a winter outdoor activities or sport kind of person. No, at my age I am more than happy to sit around by the fireplace and plan the coming year’s fishing trips. That’s my kind of winter sport.

While there are those who might fishing is not actually a sport, but rather a pastime or activity similar to snowshoeing, biking or kayaking, I guess it all depends on one’s definition of sport. Be that as it may, I know that any activity or sport that gets a person outdoors in the fresh air is worthwhile regardless of the season.

As for myself, like I said, I’ll stick to fishing. I get plenty of fresh air and I know I’ve walked many a mile along riverbanks, getting from fishing hole to fishing hole. I’ve certainly raised my heart levels trying to land a four- or five-pound rainbow trout, not to mention 250-pound sturgeon.

Read more: VIDEO: Three safety tips for shovelling snow

Read more: Letter: Neighbours’ help shovelling snow warms the heart

Read more: Column: Adventures in ice fishing

It seems like every time I open the newspaper there’s some new keep-fit activity for people my age being promoted by groups like the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Canadian Cancer Society – yoga for seniors, dance classes, Tai-Chi. My point is more so-called older people are taking part in activities and programs designed to keep them active, healthy and happy. This is all sort ironic when far too many young people are spending far too much time indoors, in front of their computers or on their phones, instead of outdoors getting fresh air and actual exercise.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things a person can do for their health.

There is no shortage of articles and information out there saying that regular exercise can help prevent many of the health problems that come with old age. Medical research has shown that, no matter what your age, you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density and mental clarity through a routine of regular exercise. Studies have also shown that exercise can help reduce the risk of numerous diseases and health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and depression.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the goal of an exercise routine, especially in one’s later years, should be the same as for all those young people you see out trying to stay ahead of the old fogies – strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility and balance. Regular activity and exercise, combined with proper nutrition, cannot stop the clock, but it can slow down the natural aging process. The trick, though, to any exercise program is to be not only realistic, but also smart about it. A preventable injury can put an older person out of commission for a lot longer than when they were younger.

No matter how old or young you are, proper form and technique are key to avoiding injury. Always avoid the temptation to overdo things in terms of both workout length and intensity.

Exercise can quite literally add years onto your life. Exercising increases your metabolism, which helps keep your weight and blood sugar in check, and, certain types of exercise also helps build and maintain your muscles which in turn helps maintain balance which helps to prevent falls. Any form of exercise such as walking, jogging, cross-country skiing, swimming, biking, or anything else that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time is good for your health.

To me, the whole point of exercising should be about enjoying life rather than simply maintaining it. So I think I’m going to venture outside, shovel the driveway just enough so that I can get out, jump in the Jeep and drive to the library. Maybe I’ll even stop by the fishing tackle store. That sounds like enough exercise for one day.

Sport or not, I enjoy my fishing – after all, isn’t it good for my health?

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