Photo: Maureen Green

RAH rah rah!

See that guy in the picture above?

Whaddya mean which guy? The 7-footer dressed in orange and black.

This was at the starting line of a running race I was in 10 years ago.

Once the starter’s pistol began the event, I never saw him again. He was a jaguar on two legs.

And oh yeah, he won the race… SHOCKER!

I’ve been in a couple hundred running races in my “short” life.

And in a mere, lonely ONE (one is the loneliest number) of all those races I won a medal… 2nd place in a 10k run on a steamy June Okanagan evening. WAHOO!!

Second place is pretty good, right?

Full Disclosure: Did I mention there were only 3 runners in my age group?

Let’s face it, clearly I don’t run for the glory of prizes or medals.

I’ve been very fortunate… my joints have help up to the gravity-assisted pounding of my non-lightweight body (so far).

Running for me is about hard work, consistency, training, sweat, fresh air and blue skies, enduring a little pain, and … getting better… living longer…

Guess what? Today’s blog post is about getting better and living longer.

You may run. You may not.

Don’t matter to me.

Not many of you are likely interested in running as a pastime or vocation, which tells me that I should be searching for universal truths, common bonds we share…

What matters to me, and very directly to you, is that we do something that makes us breathe hard, maybe feel a twinge of muscle soreness, and yes, bring on a bead of sweat.

Planning ahead 20 years, we need to think about what we can do TODAY to keep ourselves intact physically and mentally (healthspan) so we can: canoodle on the floor with our grandkids, or play our bridge games, or unmaze our WORDLES, or maintain our ability to carry groceries up the stairs into our house/condo.

Do just that and you’re getting better. Can be running, swimming, golfing, cycling, pickle-ball, soccer, tennis, pilates, or even just walking briskly. Yes, practical, work-based exercise (mucking out stalls, tossing hay bales) will do the trick too!

I’ve written here before on a couple of occasions about longevity and healthspan. Take that little paragraph above and wear it like a mantra. Repeat your activity(ies) daily, and you’ll be a huge part of the way along to increasing both your lifespan and healthspan… your worldly enjoyment.

Need proof? Here are a few scientific papers and links backing up the connection between fitness and your longer-term ability to keep breathing:

  1. RUNNING: https://dr.lib.iastate.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/4877a5be-9ac4-4822-9623-e00098fd79c5/content
  2. SWIMMING: https://www.medicaldaily.com/swimming-benefits-8-reasons-why-sport-good-you-247152
  3. GOLFING and WALKING: https://phlabs.com/whats-the-secret-to-longevity-it-may-be-golf
  4. TENNIS: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2018/09/17/want-to-live-longer-take-up-tennis/?sh=5f1da61f301b
  5. WALKING: https://neurosciencenews.com/walking-longevity-20133/

Your heart gets better, your leg strength gets better, your lungs get better, your blood sugar regulation gets better, your brain function gets better. It’s a Vegas jackpot winner. BETTER BETTER BETTER… WIN WIN WIN

I know that you know all of this but we can never be reminded enough, so here’s your little push.

Listen, I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn’t get better. YOU get better.”

— Joan Rivers

I’m feeling excited right now because I’m training for the Vancouver Half Marathon on the first of May.

Super excited because the race has been COVID-cancelled the last 2 years, so the build up for a return to “public” running is big. The spectacular ocean and mountain scenery will help diminish the fatigue and outpouring of sweat. Maybe even lessen the pain in the last few kilometres.

And even more is that I turn 65 this year which seems like a good time to celebrate reaching middle age!!

In the end, we all start our day with different reasons to get up and move. Some of us search for purpose and meaning, some for the best coffee beans or tea leaves, while others just seek the little moments of joy that happenstance brings their way.

You have to find your own way, but getting better each day will be a fabulous investment in yourself and your family and friends.

Medals may come our direction, but every time we choose to exercise our bodies, we end up learning a tiny bit more about what we’re truly capable of, and what our future can look like.

And sometimes, that alone is worth some small discomfort.

We’re reminded during this week of terrible global turmoil of the tremendous freedoms we enjoy. Let’s try to channel our inner unrest, and exercise our freedoms to getting better…