So I was doing a google image search on smart cars in hats (don’t ask – it was lunch time), and I came across this image instead. I dug the blog it came from (Aaron Schwenzfeier, a guy whose professional life is to be physical and encourage others in their physicality) and I’d like to point out that that blogger got the picture from somewhere else (Deep Zanzarakiya). But to the point: Yes and No.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I prize my morning constitutional with my husband. Unless I’m so sick I’m not going to get out of bed anyway, we go for a morning walk that lasts anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour, depending on how much energy I have. The sweet man walks slowly for me, as I am day by day increasing my level of heart health and overall wellness.
Also, I have a brand new bike, my first functional one since the one I got when I was twelve. It’s nifty, tall enough for me, has more gears than I know what to do with and a basket on the front. I even have a very high-tech bike lock, as I live in the center of the City of Buffalo. Health, here I come!
Now, it’s worth saying a few things – exercising outside freaks me out on several levels. Number one: Biking in the city is not safe. Yes, I have a helmet, yes I’ve actually read the rules of the road as pertains to bicycles in New York State. Yes, very occasionally there are bike lanes, though usually not going places I want to go. And I still personally know way too many people who have been the victim of an accident with a car while on their bikes, some of them hit and runs, most of them involving concussions and some of them broken bones in their faces, despite use of helmets. (Yes, I’m grateful they didn’t die.) We won’t even discuss the state of my lack of health insurance, soon to be rectified.
Number two: I have a vascular thing. It’s a thing. Like people can have a cardio thing that they need to plan around but be active anyway, I have a thing with my veins that makes my life more miserable the less healthy I am, and by miserable please understand that I’m understating things. And the more healthy I am, the more elastic and robust my veins are, the more interesting things I can do without being very, very careful – like walk up a flight of stairs quickly. But what this means is that it’s really not a good thing for me to push myself in anyway when I’m outside and not in the peak of health. Outside, in my world, means that I need an ambulance if my thing becomes a thing. Inside, in my world, means I can go assume downward facing dog in my living room or in the stretch area of a gym, and I can conceivably stay that way for the next two hours, with a brief break to go get more water, which inevitably I will need at that point. It means that I’m one pathetic yelp away from all the help I could imagine from people who are paid to help me when I need it, or my husband and some largely unsympathetic cats, if at home.
Now, having said that, I love running outside (when I’m healthy enough to do so) and I detest running inside. I think it’s a personal thing. I enjoy going going fast, the feeling of zooming and for that I also enjoy biking, only slightly mitigated by the fear of death that is also present on my city’s streets. It’s hit and miss, really. And I do look forward to joining the gym that shares a parking lot with my apartment building (er, more or less – it’s really their parking lot, I suppose), if only because I need to be fully submerged in water every so often for my emotional well-being and they have a pool. Also, walking in the winter in Buffalo is almost as dangerous as biking in the summer here, given that not everyone shovels as they ought.
But I think this is the thing – sound bytes are well and good, but ethics is situational, always weighing how much and which Good Things against how much and which Bad Things. And how much of our largely sedentary lives can we change, particularly if we have a desk job?
I say: low hanging fruit first, bike lane level fruit later. And meanwhile, feel free to do tai chi in your suit (it’s totally feasible) on the lawn during lunch. Yes, there will be comment. But possibly this means you’ll have company doing tai chi next week…