She’s swimming 70 km; what about you

There are plenty of excuses not to exercise and get in shape.

You’re tired. You have a creaky knee. You have a headache. Your shoulder is aching. You have a blister on your foot. It’s your birthday. You got home late from work. You haven’t done it in a long time so you won’t be any good at it anymore. You’ve put on a few pounds.

You have multiple sclerosis. Hearing Susan Simmons’s story reminds us that just like that last one, all the ones before it are even better reasons to exercise than they are not to exercise.

Simmons teaches us, by example, many useful lessons.

If you can’t walk two blocks now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to swim two or 10 kilometres in a year or two.

Start slow and build up your stamina and strength.

If one kind of exercise doesn’t work for you, don’t give up, there’s one out there that will.

Taking care of yourself by including exercise in your life will deliver a multitude of health benefits – some of them beyond what you could have imagined or hoped for.

Of course, you don’t have to be quite as ambitious as Simmons has been to get the benefits of being in shape and healthy.

We’re not all going to have the desire or personality and perseverance to swim 70 kilometres, through the night on Cowichan Lake.

That’s no licence to be a couch potato, however.

Banish those excuses – unless you’re genuinely too sick or too injured of course. You shouldn’t ignore your body. But consider the options.

Too hot? Try swimming. Too cold? Put on a coat and walk. Or head to an indoor venue. There are plenty of choices, from a traditional gym to the local badminton drop-in or rock climbing gym.

And another thing, you don’t have to be good at it.

There’s no passing grade. There’s no trophy.

There isn’t anybody to impress with your at-home aerobics in front of the television except your cat. We guarantee you, your cat doesn’t care if you aren’t raising the correct hand with the correct foot.

If competition isn’t your thing, you don’t have to compete with anyone. If competition inspires you – go for it. There’s everything from rec lacrosse leagues to the Seniors Games.

As a society we get too distracted by too many other things that in the long run don’t matter as much as our own health.

The video games and the T.V. programs can wait. They will still be there when you are finished. Nobody will die if you don’t get that post up on Facebook immediately or send out that tweet.

We all pay for our collective lack of activity with general lack of health and rising health care costs. It’s time for action.

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