As we get older, it is highly recommended that as active adults we vary our exercise routine. Although we may have favored running or biking, skiing or tennis in our younger years, over time the wear and tear on our body parts encourages us to mix it up to make the best of what we have moving forward.
For me, after many years of running and while training for my first (and only) marathon, I found that I had a moderate wear-and-tear injury to my right knee. Formally known as osteoarthritis, but more commonly understood by me as a deterioration of my meniscus due to poor alignment (who knew?), I really had no choice but to modify my exercise regime.
Attending appointments with my physical therapist 2 times per week, I learned to strengthen the muscles around my compromised knee, adjust my poor knee alignment and work on my balance. I now do these exercises on my own at home, 3 days per week.
This was my exercise of choice before my injury and it continues to be after my injury. However, I cannot rely solely on this. I have reduced my use of the treadmill for my cardio training to less than 50% of my weekly routine.
I purchased a stationary bike after getting serious about my knee injury. The truth is, if I ignore the knee, I will end up with a knee replacement. I am too young for that. So an offset to the treadmill is a stationary bike. I prefer the recumbent style and I am able to get a similar workout as I would on the treadmill but with less stress on my knee.
I recently started taking a Pilates class twice each week. Pilates is excellent in improving core strength, which I sorely need. I found a studio nearby and work with an apprentice trainer for a reduced hourly fee. This works a completely different set of skills and muscles than my other exercises and improves my posture and presence in every moment. I love it!
One or two days each week I trade my indoor equipment for outdoor. I absolutely love hiking and being in nature and I exercise while hiking trails in my local mountains. It feels like there is absolutely no work involved and it can be a great social activity when I hike with friends or family.
Another addition to my work out regimen in the recent past has been yoga. I have taken classes at a local studio that I like and I also have several home yoga videos for beginners that I have yet to try. I like the peaceful, stretching movements of yoga and the bits of meditation. The benefits I receive from yoga last long after I leave a class. I plan to work yoga back into my weekly routine not only for the exercise benefits but also for the peace of mind I receive from it.
Just For Fun
Occasionally I also play tennis, take long neighborhood walks or walks in my local park, downhill ski and attempt to play golf! All of these activities complement my regular routine and not only help me balance taking care of my body, but are a lot of fun. Raquetball? Basketball? Zumba? The list of possibilities is endless. I hope to add more interesting and active choices to my routine in the coming year.