When we’re young, we can do pretty much what we want without thinking about our physical capacities. If we want to climb a mountain, dance all night or eat that fancy food, we can. We don’t even have to think about it. Then one day, without realizing it, we get to the stage when we need regular maintenance. Exercise becomes not a diverting option, but a requirement. Somehow I personally have arrived at that place.
For years I’ve been telling other people how to maintain their bodies. Here’s how I do it.
Maintaining the Joints
Over 10 years ago, without adequate preparation, I ran a foot race too enthusiastically. As a result, a disloyal knee began to hurt so much that I feared I’d never hike again. So I went right to my physical therapist. I did just what he recommended and followed the physical therapy program he laid out. Now, all these years later, every other day I still do the exercises. My knees have never bothered me again.
I’m a big fan of physical therapy. The problem is how to keep the exercises up, especially after the pain goes away. The key is to find a ‘hook’ to help you exercise. My hook is to find an audiobook I enjoy, and then never let myself listen to it except when exercising. Every time I exercise, I get the reward.
Tending the Mind and Spirit
The mind needs two things activity and rest. In my late 20s I started one other maintenance routine, and that was to meditate twice every day. A curious mind, like a racecar, needs to go into the pits once in a while, and for me, meditation has served that purpose well. There are other ways to rest the mind: getting lost in dance or music; playing tennis or skiing anything that takes your mind away from its ordinary concerns.
Make Beautiful Music
The maintenance listed above requires no more than an hour and a quarter a day. Discipline, like muscles, strengthens with use. Discipline brings me a body that complains very little. My mind and hands consume the tasks before me rapidly. I sleep well.
They say that as the Titanic sank, the band played on the deck until the last minute. When I look around at the people I spend time with, they seem to be bracing their feet on the deck to make the most beautiful music they can while time allows.
So, take care of yourself, both your mind and your body. We need your music.
2016 Douwe Rienstra, MD, who practices family medicine at the Rienstra Clinic in Port Townsend. You can read his newsletter, Medicine for People!, at rienstraclinic.com/newsletter. Dr Rienstra has over forty years of experience in combining western pharmaceutical medicine with natural methods.