Appreciating gym class

Gym class turned me off to everything it offered, but I finally did find my own athletic muse. If you haven't found yours, do keep looking. It's the one thing I can guarantee you won't regret.

Dana coming off his bikeIn everything I've read about health and wellness since taking on ZDNet Healthcare, the one action without criticism is regular exercise.

Moving around daily, even if it's just a walk, is one thing you can do for yourself that will always benefit you, and which has no side effects.

Which leads me back to gym class.

Gym class was horrible. Its intent was to introduce us to various games and sports in hopes that we would take one up. It did the opposite for me. Everything I did in gym class felt wrong.

But somehow the idea behind gym class stayed with me, and when, just a year after graduation, I ran into an old friend who hadn't been at gym class, I grabbed hold and have never let go.

That something was a bicycle.

Over the last 30 years my old bike has become the center of my exercising world, and the center of whatever good health I enjoy. It cost me three teeth (my first bike was wrecked when a car ran into me) but it was well worth it (the old teeth were crooked).

My Sunday rides are fabulous. I explore my city as it's waking for church, when even its ghettoes are quiet. I can feel its peace, hear its heartbeat, smell its breakfasts, and see it at the modest pace that shows it off best.

What I do between rides helps even more. To reach my Sunday ride I take to the gym nearly every weekday morning. Now that I'm over 50 I do both aerobics and weights. I plug in my iPod and zone out until I'm exhausted, then I go to work.

Without this I'd probably be dead now. I inherited high cholesterol and blood pressure. My job is sedentary. I like TV. I live in a very polluted city, one of the worst for bicycling in the country.

Yet just in the hope of a Sunday morning ride I do the equivalent of a diuretic every day. I watch what I eat. I take my medicine. I fight my natural German-Irish depression, usually without too much alcohol.

Gym class turned me off to everything it offered, but I finally did find my own athletic muse. If you haven't found yours, do keep looking.

It's the one thing I can guarantee you won't regret.

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