I have just spent a wonderful weekend learning the ropes of endurance riding. We were down in Allegany State park, where we usually horse camp. The woman teaching me is 68 years old, she just recently stopped competing, as much because of her horse as anything. For those that don’t know, endurance riding has some similarities to trail riding, much of it in our area uses the same trails for both, but for endurance you ride them as fast as possible, and the distances are from 25-100 miles. The one I am preparing for will be 35 miles, a bit longer than the usual “short ride”.
Did I have a reason for telling you this? Two, actually. First, it is simply more encouragement that staying active is the key to a healthy later life. Ainsly, the woman who was teaching me hauled her own horse down, set up camp, rode the two days and packed up horse and camp to go home. At 68. When most people are saying “I’m too old for that.” I’m not saying she wasn’t sore and stiff at times. But the point is that she could do what she wanted.
The second point is that when you are active, you can do more, with less effort. Ainsly and I did things when we got back to camp, rather than needing a nap. I won’t say who needed the nap, but it was the one who hates exercise. Also, we could see what we were doing as fun, rather than a chore. Let’s face it, everything active requires effort(Thank you Captain Obvious). Unless you want to be a spectator to life, you have to keep yourself in good enough shape to do those things you love. If you want to bicycle in the summer, you have to exercise in the winter. If you want to hike on the weekends, you have to do workouts during the week. You have to set that as a routine when you are young, as it isn’t as necessary then, but you need the habit established for when you get older.
Oh, and I had a third point too. Surprise! Seriously, doing one activity leads to another. I wouldn’t have gotten into weight lifting if it wasn’t for Karate. I wouldn’t have thought about endurance riding if the desire for more challenges wasn’t awakened by karate and weight lifting. My friend Marlene is always talking about instant Karma, that everything you do impacts others. The same is true inside your own life. Positive steps create positive steps. Whatever road you are on is the one you will keep going on. Fitness and exercise leads to more fitness and exercise. Bad choices lead to more bad choices. Just take one baby step at a time in the direction you’d like to go, and see where it gets you.