My job is predominantly characterized by strenuous physical labor. As a person who takes pride in working manually, I’ve always favored physically demanding jobs over being confined behind a desk. However, now that I’m in my 40s, the toll that these heavy duties take on my body and health has become increasingly apparent. In the aftermath of my workdays, I often find myself nursing severe aches and muscle stiffness, which lingers during my rest days and leaves me barely able to move.
Although it may sound enviable that I only work for three days a week, the truth of the matter is less glamorous. My typical work routine involves squeezing an immense amount of hard labor into these three days. The subsequent physical exhaustion and muscle soreness essentially immobilize me on my off days. The residual stiffness makes it especially challenging to regain my mobility and resume work.
In response to these challenges, I realized that while I was allowing my body ample time to rest and recover, excessive sedentary behavior was worsening the situation. It was this realization that led me to decide to incorporate walking into my daily routine once again.
Previously, I maintained a regular routine of walking or jogging at least three miles each day before heading off to work. However, when I relocated to Northwest Arkansas, exercising outdoors proved to be rather problematic. The high traffic and underdeveloped pedestrian infrastructure, compounded by ongoing construction, made it virtually impossible for me to carry out my routine walks or jogs which affected my overall health.
Things changed significantly when I moved into an apartment complex in a more pedestrian-friendly area last month. A new park has just been inaugurated right across the street, and an expansive bike trail runs through it. While the trail remains under construction, I can still cover several miles by walking in either direction from my residence. The paths connected to my apartment complex as well, making it conveniently feasible to accommodate three miles of walking into my days off.
Contrary to what one might think, light exercise such as walking helps alleviate muscle soreness by loosening up the muscles. After incorporating regular walking into my routine, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in my post-work muscle stiffness and pain. Also, my energy levels are gradually beginning to recover.
For the past two years, my fitness levels have been far from ideal, a fact I was keen to rectify. This lack of fitness has affected not only my physical health but also my mental well-being, with noticeable changes in my mood and diet, and a persistent lack of energy.
Two years ago, I recall being the most healthy I have ever been in my life, healthier than when I was a teen engaging in sports, probably due to being able to afford a more nutritious diet as an adult.
Currently, my physical state mirrors that of my 20s—carrying extra weight around my midsection and perpetually low on energy. Therefore, I’ve decided to start anew by introducing a simple three-mile walk on my off days. Gradually, I plan to build up to jogging and incorporate basic exercises like pushups into my routine. In the past, a routine as simple as 25 pushups followed by a three-mile run was sufficient to keep me in fantastic shape. It’s high time I reclaim that vitality.
A few years ago, I acquired a high-end mountain bike from a friend, anticipating I would put it to frequent use in my new locale, Bentonville, Arkansas – a place that proudly identifies as the global hub of mountain biking. However, an unfortunate incident prior to my relocation has since kept me at a distance from my mountain bike.
On an excessively hot day, I took the bike for a spin along some advanced trails and found myself severely overheated by the time I returned to my vehicle. Whether it was heat stroke or extreme dehydration, I’m unsure, but it resulted in temporary paralysis.
I managed to scramble into my truck and turn on the air conditioning just before the paralytic episode fully set in, rendering me immobile for about half an hour. I was unable to speak a word or reach out for my phone to seek help. Assuming the worst, I endured this frightening experience until it subsided, and I was then able to hydrate and gradually regain my strength, sufficient to drive myself home and continue my recovery.
This traumatic experience left me with a negative association with my mountain bike. Hence, I’m contemplating selling it and investing in a more user-friendly bike, suited for the extensive concrete paths that abound in my area. While my current mountain bike is a formidable ride, its performance on paved surfaces is far from smooth. It’s made for the off road for sure.
I’m confident that with a more casual and comfortable bike, I’ll be more inclined to use it frequently. This, in turn, could serve as an effective strategy to improve my fitness level and promote a healthier lifestyle. That’s the plan I’ve envisioned for myself.