Last month a friend died tragically while riding his bike. He had had heart issues in the past and was making a concerted effort to keep his weight down and to exercise. A few days later I read an article in a health newsletter that said: “Excessive exercise, especially if you’re still focusing on traditional endurance cardio like long-distance running, can be particularly troublesome if you have a heart condition.” We wondered if twenty-mile bike rides had stressed Ralph’s heart so much that it gave out. On the other hand, his conscientious program of diet and exercise probably added years to his life.
My husband, Jake, and I are also talking about revamping our exercise programs to fit our changing lives. My husband has hip issues, but the doctor says he can avoid a hip replacement by being careful. Two weeks ago he pulled a muscle in his calf playing squash so he has been taking it easy. We talked about ways he can get exercise while taking it easy on his leg and hip – no simple matter. As for me, this summer I am backing down to playing tennis only once a week instead of three times because I am caring for my aged mother. The less I play, the worse I get. It is frustrating to know that soon I won’t be able to keep up with former tennis partners.
We just returned from Colorado. Four years ago there, we hiked for hours high into the mountains and biked all day. This time no biking or hiking. We were, however, able to take a beautiful walk through a meadow.
Then I think about Lori, so tenacious, so spirited as she tailors her exercise to fit her life with Parkinson’s. I will try to stay as positive as she does and pay attention to lesson number ten: Set realistic, achievable but challenging goals. Goals will move you forward because they create tension between where you are and where you want to go. But, you may have to redefine success. Before you got blindsided by your challenge, you measured success in certain ways. Now your situation may make you measure success differently. Before I had P.D., I was an aerobics instructor. Now I am proud to be able to go ballroom dancing.