The other day, I stopped at one of those free blood pressure checks you often see in drugstores. It had been awhile since I checked my blood pressure. It put my left arm in the cuff and pushed the button. A few seconds (or is it minutes?) later, my blood pressure read 117/78. My pulse read 56. I generally have low blood pressure, even in my carnivore days. It was the pulse that surprised me. This wasn’t my pulse when in the morning that I took when I woke up. This was my pulse after filling my grocery cart at Kroger and figuring out how to get it home without a car.
The low pulse I see as a benefit to being car free and meat free. My walking, bicycling and running have all strengthened my heart so it doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate blood through my body.
Something else I saw on the machine got me thinking. A sign on the machine said to exercise three times a week. Later that day or maybe it was the day before, the blog Car Free Days showed up in my inbox. The blog’s writer referenced this NPR report on parents scheduling exercise time for their children.
The NPR report looked at two families. One owns a car and the parents travel back and forth across town taking their kids to soccer and other sports practices. The other family does not own a car and the parents and their children ride bicycles to school, soccer and other practices. The point being the family with the car has to schedule time for their children to be physically active, while the family without a car does not. Physical activity is built into their day.
I run because I enjoy it. I want to run a marathon in the fall. I did not start running until the fall of 2007 after listening to my brother and brother-in-law talk about the virtues of running, and how my brother had taken a PE class in college (he was a history teacher with a PE endorsement) in which the teacher told the students to never make kids run as punishment. Running is enjoyable. Watch little kids run. Look at their smiles. We, to quote Bruce Springsteen and Christopher McDougall, were born to run.
But I don’t have to run. I have exercise built into my daily routine. I ride my bicycle to work — a 3-mile roundtrip. I come home for dinner most days, so five days a week, I ride at least 6 miles. Now, that’s not going to get me in the Tour de France or even prepare to ride a century, but it does get me to and from work without sitting on my arse listening to ESPN Radio while I drive that mile and a half in a car.
My daily exercise doesn’t end there. I often walk my son to the library, to religious ed classes at church, to church, to the bus stop, to the science museum. He is not real proficient on his bike yet, and so we walk places. Hopefully, this by this summer his confidence on his bike improves to the point that we can ride to many of these places together.
We also have two dogs. And they sure are better behaved when they get regular exercise, so we take them for walks.
My point is that I have exercise built into my routine. I don’t need to make an appointment to get my exercise. And my son’s activity level is pretty high. Yes, he sometime spends too much time in front of a computer. One of the perils of homeschooling in the digital age, I’m afraid. And, yes, he can be reluctant to go outdoors when it’s cold. But he likes being car free, most of the time. And he tells me he’s going to ride his bike to Kansas.
I am reminded of this photo: