by Richard S. Kordesh
A long time ago, I swam laps almost daily in the JCC Indianapolis pool. That mile a day constituted my major form of exercise. I mostly worked during the rest of my waking hours, spending rather stationary time at desks, meeting tables, and in the car. Those quiet, churning minutes gliding back and forth in the cool water served up a healthy, splashing brew of physical stimulation and mental serenity.
I get my exercise differently today. I work out at a YMCA in the Chicago area on machines that had not yet been invented while I was a swimmer. I grind away on an elliptical trainer and clench my abs on a “crunch” machine.
But I’ve also come to appreciate activities that build in exercise naturally. Take that living workout space: the garden. There are deep knee bends and squats that position one close to the dirt. Moving a heavy load of compost in the wheelbarrow works the biceps, abs and lower back. Fine motor skills and the small muscles needed to execute them are kept in tune when planting tiny seeds in micro-spaces only inches apart under light, thin coverings of soil. Pounding stakes into the hard, spring ground wakes up the triceps, hand muscles and “lats.” Balancing oneself while crouching between rows of fragile plants calls for the coordination of upper and lower muscle groups.
That communities provide many paths to fitness – formal and informal – is something to celebrate. As spring approaches, I challenge you to find your path to wellness by finding out what nature - and your community - has to offer.
Guest blogger Richard S. Kordesh is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places and has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years.
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