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Get Up Out of Your Chair

What’s your move?

Sitting at my desk writing about fitness? Something’s wrong here; I can feel it in my posterior. Maybe my bones, too, but the first complainant is the part that meets the chair.
    Let’s Move!
    I’m ready, but first I’ve got to tell you about a couple of stories. Because I want you to take them to heart, I’ll start from my own.
    Like Tom Caraker, hero of Selene San Felice’s story Connecting Lives, I’m a late convert to fitness.
    Maybe not so late. Back when I was the age of the Mighty Milers who are part of the Annapolitan fitness wave applauded all the way to the White House — achievements you’ll read about in Annapolis on the Move — I biked and walked my way around the world, while swimming and horseback riding were my fun. Then I turned 16 and turned the ignition in my Chevy Corvair. Ever after, I was in the driver’s seat. Except for some breezy bicycle commuting when I was a young urbanite.
    Twenty years later, I was horrified when my friend Judy invited me to go running. Eventually I agreed, but I hated every step. Until, many, many years later, I tried an elliptical machine and slowly converted.
    I’m still no Tom Caraker, who rides 15 to 50 miles every day on the B&A trail. But, as the poet wrote, I’m faithful in my fashion, even fanatical when it comes to my summer sports, outdoor water aerobics and yoga.
    Tom converted only after diabetes and strokes were crippling him. Biking has given him his health plus the great bonus of meaning in life. Looking around my circle of old girl friends, I see he’s not alone. Back when playing outdoors on your own was how you grew up, all of us were pretty active kids. Some of us could have been athletes, but this was before Title IX encouraged girls to follow their energy and agility into sports. For others of us, gym class was a drag, and we were its wallflowers.
    No matter how we began, the ones of us who’ve found the will and a way to keep active have aged healthier. Judy is one of them, I’m glad to say, except for the knee replacement that may have been one price of her active life.
    These reflections make me imagine how we might have fared, girls and boys alike, had we learned early on to make exercise — and fresh eating, which deserves its own story — part of our habits of life rather than playtime to give up as we grew up.
    That’s what programs like First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! are trying to do.
    “It’s been a nice structure to follow and good knowing you’re doing it with other people,” said Jen Jennings — an art historian and mother who came to fitness at 40 as a second career — who integrates Let’s Move! into her work as Community Health, Fitness and Aquatics Supervisor for Annapolis Recreation and Parks. “Everything is baby steps, and I’m trying to grow it so every resident in the city knows what it is. I’d like the whole city to adopt it.”
    Like Obama, Jennings and Tom Caraker, the B&A Trailblazers and Bike Patrol are proselytizers. They spread the gospel of fitness because they’ve seen it transform lives. Read their stories, and see if there’s a fit in your life.
    Of course that’s not all you’ll find in this Bay Weekly. So keep reading.
    Me? I’m out of this chair.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com