Getting enough exercise after retirement can be a challenge, and an accomplishment, as Camille DeFer Thompson discovers. Most importantly, be prepared. Really, really prepared. Read more from Camille on her blog.
After I retired, I finally had time to add a regular exercise routine to my schedule. I joined a local seniors hiking group with the intention of hooking up with them at least once or twice a month. I signed on for the weekly email reminders, and–seven months later–I took my first hike.
According to the leader, we would be covering about four miles round trip. Given my limited knowledge of local trails, I could only hope that I wouldn’t get separated from the pack, lest I languish for days, wandering the foothills of the greater Tri-Valley in search of a cell tower ping to provide searchers with coordinates to my location.
The night before my first hike, I stuffed my backpack with enough provisions and first aid supplies to put a survivalist to shame. Besides the obvious UPF 50 sun hat, SPF 80 sunscreen, and SPF 50 lip balm, I squirreled away two bottles of water, four energy bars, one banana, a baggie of almonds, a mini-bottle of hand sanitizer, antiseptic spray, bandages of varying sizes, a snake bite kit, and an empty ballpoint pen casing in case I needed an emergency tracheotomy.
I met up with the group at the appointed time. The first thing I noticed was that no one else had the foresight to bring a well-stocked backpack. Bet they were glad to see me.
As the leader and his wife led the group off down the path, Brenda, a fellow retiree, was kind enough to keep pace with me at the back of the pack. She kept me entertained with stories about her former stressful work life, jetting back and forth weekly across the country, and how much she enjoys retirement and babysitting her two-year-old granddaughter. I didn’t quite catch the child’s name over my panting.
Before long we were headed back up through the neighborhood and the entrance to the park where we started. I looked into the faces of the other hikers, red-cheeked and smiling. They chatted about the euphoria they experience after the hikes. One mentioned a feeling of exhilaration. I came up with a different word: exhaustion.
Then one of the hikers pulled out her smart phone, tapped the screen, and announced that we had traveled 3.76 miles. Thank goodness. I don’t think I could have made it four miles.
As we split off to our cars, Brenda followed me to mine. “So, will you be joining us again?” she asked.
I thought about all the reasons that had kept me from making it until today – too hot, too cold, unfavorable horoscope, woke up with a kink in my neck … then what a sense of accomplishment I experienced at the end; how proud – OK, exhilarated – I felt.
“You know, Brenda? I think I will,” I said.
But next time, I might rethink the backpack.