I have to admit that until very recently I’ve avoided exercise as much as possible. I’ve lived for nearly three-quarters of a century firmly ascribing to the belief that one should never run when they can amble, they shouldn’t amble when they can ride. A person should never stand when they can sit and they shouldn’t sit when they can lie down, preferably in the shade of a tree somewhere with a good book.
But a few months ago I was diagnosed with COPD. After some basic tests it was determined that my lungs are only operating at 34% of normal. That’s really not a big surprise considering that for more than half a century I infused my lungs with lots and lots of licit and illicit substances. I stopped smoking a bit over a year ago.
For a long time I’ve known I had emphysema. One doesn’t have to go to med school to figure that out when simple chores leave you gasping for breath. I have pollen allergies and a few months ago something around here in Boquerón was flowering and really giving me a hard time. So I went to the pulmonary doctor at Hospital Chiriquí. One of the things he insisted that I do was to get in shape. “Well,” I thought, I AM in shape. Round is a shape, isn’t it?”
One of the things he insisted that I do was to walk at least a half hour a day. Well, I tried it, but it didn’t work out well. My hips are pretty arthritic. The walk from my house to the end of the street to get the bus is only 211 yards. That’s two football fields and an end zone laid end to end. By the time I get to the caseta I’m in serious need of some heavy-duty pain killers. No kidding. But while a few months ago I was also winded to the point that I needed five minutes or so to return to normal now, with the prescriptions I take, I don’t feel like that anymore.
But I did take the doctor’s orders to heart. I went out and bought a bike because the motion of riding a bike is different than how you use your legs when walking.
Regular readers may remember that this is the same place I took the picture of the motorcycle a few years ago.
I have to admit that I don’t ride every day. I should, but it’s really a pain in the ass and I go in to David a couple of times a week, and a trip into the city takes up three or four hours at least. Not only that, in order to go for a ride I have to “suit up.” Normally when I get up in the morning a put on a pair of shorts and walk around in flip flops. Period! That’s it! To go riding I have to put on socks, shoes, pants and a shirt.
Until a few days ago I’d been riding from my house up to the Town Hall (El Palacio Municipal).
It’s three quarters of a mile and ALL uphill. The difference in the altitude between the house and El Palacio is 77 feet. That’s the equivalent of nearly an eight-story building. I’d have to stop four or five times to catch my breath, but at least my hips didn’t hurt though my thighs felt the burn. I did, though, enjoy the glide back to the house.
Saturday I discovered something a bit easier with more level ground. And one of the bonuses is that there’s no traffic to contend with.
Going from the house to the main road is slightly uphill for the first third of the street. Then, hanging a left it’s a nice coast down to where I make a right hand turn. From there to the next turn is all slightly uphill as is the short leg. Half of the long leg back to the main road is uphill. Each lap is a quarter of a mile. I can do two laps before I have to stop to catch my breath. Four laps and back to the house is a mile and a quarter with little breathers in there while gliding. Today I did just under two miles before going home. It’s the dry season which means it’s really hot when you’re in direct sunshine. When I get so I can do five or six laps without having to stop for a breather, I’ll tackle the ride up to El Palacio again.