The old double nickel. (Thanks.)
Aging is a bitch but it does beat the alternative, we assume. Even if it doesn't I can wait to find out.
So like a lot of people over many years I'm taking better care of myself. My cholesterol is down, my hypertension is under control, I get regular checkups and exercise. It's not so much about life extension so much as it is enjoying every day I have, seeing that the number is limited.
But there's a problem. It's cold. Real cold. Mitten cold.
How cold is it? So cold my YMCA was closed on Saturday, and opened late on Sunday. So cold I bought nine big old fire logs when my mom came to visit for a week and nearly used all of them. So cold the heater is on nearly all the time, and I live in Atlanta for chrissakes!
Fortunately my son, the teenager who drives me crazy, has a cure.
John takes long walks to clear his head. Sometimes twice a day. He can be gone for an hour or more.
He has been asking us the distance to local landmarks, because he's been there-and-back sometimes, just thinking.
Which, when it got real real cold, got me to thinking.
So I tried it. One day before the Y closed I walked there, wearing the cool Texas hat I bought over the holidays. I timed myself, and the distance, then entered it into the Fitlinxx system they have over there.
To my surprise, I had used more calories than in the heavy workouts I normally do. I didn't use them as fast. I walked comfortably, an iPod over my ears, zipper pulled up tight, sort of meditating. But it was a better workout.
Men were built for walking, or running. We can't go as fast as the cheetah but we can outrun the critter, over time, just keeping him in sight. Cheetah will tire and practically ask for the dart, the Bushmen say.
A long walk is also much better than a bike ride when it's cold. I've done both. Get on a bike when it's frigid and you'll spend the first 10 minutes shivering, searching everywhere for an uphill where you can work up a sweat. Then you'll heave out your lunch at the top of the hill, the sweat pouring out of you, and when you finally come in your jacket will be unzipped while you frantically search for a downhill to wick it away.
Oh, and it takes a half-hour to get ready for a winter ride. You also look like a dork.
Not so with a walk. It's come as you are on the sidewalk. Just walk out the door. You can find your own way home.
Go uphill and you'll feel it in your upper thighs, a little tingling. If it hurts slow down. Go downhill and you'll feel it in your calves. Same advice.
Dress like I did this week, in something striking like a Texas hat, and people will smile at you. Wear your hair long, like I've been doing, and when they see the white mane whipping in the breeze, they get real happy.
When you come in off a long walk, there's no huffing and puffing. There's no long cool down. You just notice that you've been sweating, take off your coat, notice you're feeling mighty good. Food tastes better after a long walk. Life looks sweeter. Your spouse looks sexier.
I may walk more this summer, too.
Don't believe what they say about crime, either. Walk during the day, in a decent neighborhood, and you should be OK. Some types of crime are up, but not nearly as much as you'd expect given the Great Recession. Murder in many places is actually down.
Maybe some bad guys have finally figured out that crime is hard work, and they're going for long walks instead. I hope so.
In any case, one piece of advice from an old friend who is growing older by the day, as you are.
Take a long walk. Life doesn't get much better than this.