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Exercise

A Breath of Fresh Air

I fully agree with the general consensus that we are living in both strange and trying times.  Although we are “social animals,” to quote the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, a virus has invaded our planet making it necessary to isolate from friends and stay away from social events that might attract crowds.  But even in the most trying of times, there is a wonderful attribute that humans possess that can bring the good to the surface .

I have exercised pretty much all my life, and with the help of some personal weights I own, along with some improvisation on my part, I have been able to maintain this habit without going to a fitness center.  I have developed an exercise program that consists of aerobics and weight lifting, every other day, along with jogging on the other days of the week.

All was going quite well until my body decided to behave like that of a 75-year-old man.  Suddenly, I felt a tweak in my back that became more pronounced when I played golf.  Hoping that it would go away, after I completed my weight lifting cycle, upon stretching in the lower back area, a flash of pain shot through my body.  I knew it would be unwise to continue to fight my body, and I immediately ceased my routine stretches.

That evening I slept quite well with only a slight backache.  The next day, in a state of denial, I started my normal jog I had been doing since the onset of the coronavirus.  But when my feet came pounding down on the sidewalk in front of my house, my senses were pierced by the hurt in my lower back.   Determined not to walk, I jogged in slow motion–to reduce the impact of my running shoes on the street–that resulted in much less discomfort throughout my body.  My pace probably did not exceed that of a walker who certainly was not breaking any speed records.

To me, I had a small victory in simply being able to “jog” as opposed to merely walking.   As I proceeded, tortoise like, I reached an intersection and pressed the button lighting up the pedestrian signal.  Unlike New York City where I lived before moving to California, pedestrians have the right of way when going through a crosswalk.  Still on the curb, the young driver of the car, stopped at the intersection, gave me the signal to go before him.  As I hopped off the curb, I chuckled to myself silently thinking: “Poor guy doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.”  In straining to thrust my body forward, I felt like an overloaded pack-horse trudging through a swamp.  After what seemed like an eternity, when I reached the end of the intersection, the driver yelled: “You looked great.  Just keep doing it.”

I was going to shout back: “It’s my back,” but decided a simple thanks was better than any explanation I could offer.  His words of encouragement facilitated the end of my jog allowing me to finish with a sense of accomplishment.  Sometimes positive recognition by a stranger or friend can alleviate life’s preoccupations.  The pain, though still present, no longer cried out to me as it had when I had first begun my jog.